Devaluation, when it is associated with money, represents a loss, “[it is] the official lowering of the value of a country’s currency,” (Wikipedia).
Human devaluation represents a loss, too. It is an assault on a “person’s sense of humanity, dignity, and worth,” (Hardy & Laszloffy, p. 149).
When in a personal conflict with a teenager, do you (the adult) add or subtract from the teenager’s sense of humanity, dignity, and worth? In your presence, does a teenager feel valued or devalued?
Unfortunately, when adults interact with teens, “many unintentionally find [themselves] contributing to, rather than counteracting, devaluation in [teenagers’] lives,” (Hardy & Laszloffy, p. 149).
It seems that adults, when in conflict with teens, find it easy to miss a necessary first step before they toss into conversations the “‘C’ reactions … challenging, confronting, criticizing, and correcting,” (Hardy & Laszloffy, p. 149).
That missed, necessary first step is validation.
Validation affirms a person’s worth, upholds his dignity, and protects her value. It does not commend or condone actions. In the case of a teenager’s inappropriate actions, redirection is necessary, but it comes later. First comes validation.
Validation, in a conversation, may feel like the old adage: I don’t care how much you know, until I know how much you care. It can sound like this: “‘I understand your perspective … I recognize where you are coming from,'” (Hardy & Laszloffy, p 151).
Validation is not easy, especially if a teenager, acts like, well, like a teenager can act when the outside screams, “Leave me alone!” as the inside craves validation.
Teenagers, like all human beings, want their humanity, dignity, and worth affirmed. Consequently, remember that in conversation and/or conflict with teenagers, validation comes first.
Hardy, K.V. & Laszloffy, T.A., Teens Who Hurt: Clinical Intervention To Break The Cycle Of Adolescent Violence, (2005). The Guilford Press: NY.