Listen to me and validate my feelings

Listen to me and validate my feelings

If I talk to you:

  • Give me time and space to get everything out (but don’t make me say more than I feel able to)
  • Help me to express myself in non-verbal ways
  • Acknowledge what I have told you
  • Validate my feelings and show empathy
  • Let me know that you think it was good that I talked to you
  • Check in to make sure you have understand what I’ve told you
  • Be curious about me as a whole person with interests, ambitions and opinions – don’t just see me as a ‘concern’

If I don’t talk to you:

  • Remember that this conversation may encourage me to talk to someone in the future.
  • Acknowledge that you understand how difficult it can be to talk and that it can take time to feel ready to do so

Support me to understand:

  • That I can talk to someone when I feel ready
  • Who I could talk to and how
  • Give me contact details and practical ideas that I can use when I’m ready

Young people say

“You don’t need to have all the answers.” Young Person

“It can feel so frightening telling someone something you’ve kept hidden.” Young Person

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“It’s always easier to talk and listen when sharing a task. It can be anything, writing things down, asking them to help you sort things out in the room, anything to do something together. I often say ’you couldn’t just give me a hand could you?’ This helps them to open up and feel less on the spot.”

“If professionals are not sure what to say or do, they should admit that they're not sure, rather than trying to blunder along. It could be comforting to know that you’re kind of in it together. They could say ‘I’m not exactly sure what to do, but we’re gonna work it out together, we’ll talk it through and then we can get advice from someone. My pastoral worker didn't know exactly what to say, but she said ‘I don't really know, but I’m going to contact these people because I know they’ll know what to do’. It was important that she was honest with me about that.”

Young person

“It can feel like you haven't acted on something – feel like you’re sending someone back in to something that you’ve been unable to safeguard them against but they haven’t said anything so you’ve got nothing to go on but a feeling. It can make you feel wholly inadequate. Remember that your action was for you to notice and say something. This might be the first time someone has shown the young person that.”

A+E nurse

“It's ok to sit with difficult feelings and silence. It gives young people space to think. It shows them that we are OK with their feelings and that it’s OK to be quiet until they want to say something to you.”

Therapeutic support worker

“I always say ‘I’m glad you’ve told someone. I know how hard it can be to talk so thank you for telling me.’”

Safeguarding lead

“The young people that keep you awake at night are the ones who you have a feeling about but who don't say anything. I always pass on my concerns to someone – even something small could add to a bigger picture.”


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