“The thing about “Andrew” is that he needs constant validation. And he’s such a smart kid.” These were the words (other than the name change
) that I used with a colleague last week as we debriefed the day at work. I teach 5th
grade. And this is something that I said with irritation - He needs constant validation
Andrew is 10 years old.
The need for validation is something that we have all experienced. We either observe people needing a pat on the back, or we are the ones in search of a thumbs-up. I chose to write about this topic, because the fact that it irritates me lets me know that there is some growing to do. How can I take this ever-so-present characteristic and put a positive spin on it?
After all, this whole being irritated thing is actually quite hypocritical. These are some of my thoughts during the week:
How many people are going to come to my yoga class?
How many people liked my Facebook picture?
Who is going to come to our party this weekend?
Am I going to be picked for the conference in October?
My dad loves to crack jokes. The thing is, he’s always the first one to laugh, and then he visually sweeps the room to see who has validated his sense of humor. This is something that has always bothered me. I have attached the need to be validated with other characteristics such as weakness, lack of security, and low self-esteem.
I think it’s safe to say that we all want to feel significant. We need comfort and security and often this comes from a dose of recognition. We live in a world where instant gratification is at our fingertips. Perhaps this makes us more needy, more impatient and less able to rely on our own sense that in fact, we are ok, and we are on track. We tend to implant invisible checkpoints along the way. Checkpoints that we put in the hands of others. We sabotage our own ability to validate ourselves, and we give our power away. Just like that. Because we want to feel accepted. We want to feel accepted in a world of competition and comparison. We want to feel like what we are doing matters.
So how am I going to respond the next time Andrew asks, “Ms. D. is this ok?” as he presents me with a near perfect piece of work?
I could respond with one of the many responses I have used in the past, “It looks fine,” “What do you think?” or, “I think you can answer that.” All responses that have a hint of frustration that he is asking me, again
Or, I can take the work and drop what I think I know about Andrew’s motives. I can smile and let Andrew know that his work is right on target. I can validate people. We can validate people. We can help them grow.