Summer Family Activities & Improving Parent-Child Relationships with Validation

All relationships need positive interactions. If all you experience together is criticism and fighting, it is impossible to feel supported, loved, relaxed and happy. Jill H. Rathus and Alex L. Miller discuss the importance of parent-child pleasant activities in DBT Skills Manual for Adolescents. They explain how these activities “can help keep family members close, reduce emotional vulnerability, and be a buffer for those negative family interactions” (Rathus & Miller, 2015).

The DBT Skills Manual for Adolescents includes a superfluous amount of pleasant activity ideas including:

  • Going out for ice cream or frozen yogurt
  • Playing with pets
  • Talking about your day
  • Playing board games or cards
  • Planning a surprise for someone
  • Telling family stories
  • Going camping
  • Having a barbeque
  • Going to an amusement park

Another way that you can improve your parent-child or parent-young adult relationship is through validation. “Validation has to do with communicating clearly to others that you are paying attention to them, that you understand them, that you are nonjudgmental, that you are nonjudgmental, that you have empathy, and that you can see the facts or the truth of their situation” (Linehan, 2015).

In DBT there are 6 levels of validation:

  1. Pay Attention
    Show that you are listening, that what the other person is saying has meaning and is important to you. Paying attention is not agreeing with the other person, rather listening to their perspective.
  2. Reflect Back without Judgment
    Communicate what you are hearing from the other person and be open to correction.
  3. “Read Minds”
    Note the person’s voice tone, body language, facial expression to infer how the person might be feeling. Use caution with this skill, avoid assuming you know exactly what the other person is thinking and feeling and be open to correction.
  4. Communicate an Understanding of the Causes
    “Look for how the feelings, thoughts, and actions of a person make sense, given the other person’s history and current situation, even if you don’t approve of the behaviors, emotions, or actions themselves” (Linehan, 2015).
  5. Acknowledge the Valid
    Recognize when a person’s response makes sense because it fits the facts and is effective in relation to their values and goals.
  6. Show Equality
    Be on the same level as those that you’re talking to. Avoid one-upping someone and speak to them with respect.

How can you use validation or plan a family pleasant activity to improve your relationships today?


Rathus, J. H. & Miller, A. L. (2015). DBT Skills Manual for Adolescents. New York, NY: The Guilford Press.
Linehan, M. M. (2015). DBT Skills Training Manual Second Edition. New York, NY: The Guilford Press.