Bad Behavior

Happy Mothers Day

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How many of us moms have had visions of grandeur when it comes to celebrating Mother’s Day? I certainly have had my fair share. I dreamt of the beautiful cards, my children behaving well, playing with my hair, getting me the most thoughtful touching present a mother could ask for. The Reality is: “Oh yeah by the way, Happy Mother’s Day, can I get you anything?” Before I can even answer they have walked away. What happened to breakfast in bed with fresh pancakes and strawberries? I see it all over social media but where is my fairy tale story?

YOU are the fairy tale story. You have kids. Amazing, beautiful, funny, sweet, caring, smelly, rude, disrespectful and selfish kids. Every day we wake up to the most challenging rewarding career anyone could ask for, being a mommy. (Or a daddy doing double duty) Kids don’t always do what we want them to do when we want them to do it. In life I have realized many times that it is about the journey not the destination. It’s about the dirty diapers, first words, first kiss, first fight, first everything for our kids. We are their teachers for life and that is the greatest gift.

For all the mothers out there, Happy Mothers Day. If no one told you what a kick ass mom you are, let me tell you! You are all amazing even if under appreciated.

Enjoy the day!
Elise

Gotcha Day: What it is and how it changed my life

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Miriam Webster's Definition of Gotcha:   an unexpected usually disconcerting challenge, revelation, or catch.
 
Not sure if that is how I would describe the day my darling Payton was put into my arms for the first time 12 years ago.  For some reason, the slang term for the day you receive your child in Chinese adoption is called Gotcha Day. Either way, I got her and I have never looked back.
 
When the decision was made to adopt, it seemed like a smart, easy one.  After all, my oldest has autism, there is genetic component and we were unwilling to take any chances. We began the adoption process. Much like my experience with Spencer's therapies, I threw myself into the entire adoption process. I had to decide if we wanted domestic or international, which country and which agency.  Once those decisions were made, we needed homestudies, fingerprints, recommendations, passports, visas, immunizations.  The list seemed endless and so did the process.  But I was set on my Chinese baby girl. After all, I was told cognitively Chinese children were perfect.  Is there such a thing?  All I knew was that after all the therapies I had been through with Spencer I wanted and thought I deserved a “typical baby” I wanted to know what it felt like to parent a typical child. 
 
Three years after we started the process of the adoption, I got the call.  “Mrs. Montgomerie, please pull your car over.  We need to make sure you are in a safe place when we tell you.” I was so excited. I had finally been matched with a baby. I pulled the car over to park. “Ok, I’m safe, tell me about my baby.” “Your child Long Xan Man is waiting for you. Please make your travel arrangements for 6 weeks. We will send you all the paperwork you need.” I hung up, cried, cried and cried some more. Long Xan Man I’m coming to get you.
 
Gotcha Day was very surreal. It was cold and gray in Nanchang. We were told to meet in the ballroom of our hotel. We were told, “don’t come early, we don’t want you seeing the babies.” Walking down to the room, we saw the “nanny’s” bringing in the babies. I tried desperately to find Long Xan Man. We were sent 2 pictures. That’s it. From that I couldn’t seem to recognize her. As we arrived in the room, they told the parents to stand on one side of the room and the babies were on the other side. When your name was called, you were to come and meet your baby. It was like when you go grocery shopping and it is your turn at the deli counter only it is such a better gift. Then finally. “Montgomerie”. I ran and grabbed Long Xan Man and hugged her so tight. In that moment she became my Payton. Just like when Spencer was born, I had difficulty letting people hold her. Not because I was nervous. It was because it hurt too much to have my babies in anyone else’s arms.
 
We finally came home to be greeted by our family and friends. It was amazing. And just like that the 3 long years of my “adoption pregnancy” were over and my family was complete.
 
I have since learned there are no perfect kids. Like all kids, regardless of whether they were adopted or have autism, they all have their own set of issues. Payton is no different. But I wouldn’t have it any other way. We are so perfectly matched, it was as if the universe knew I needed to wait 3 years to get my Payton.
 
Payton Grace Montgomerie, I gotcha now and I’m never letting go. I kaklunk to Iabab. Thank you for giving me the privilege of being your mother.

Love,
Elise

New Year, New Habits

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One question I always ask parents who start my Happy Family in 90 Days™ parenting program is to identify their child’s currency. What is it and how do we determine it? Your child’s currency is an everyday thing that they constantly ask for that isn’t food, love, or time and doesn’t cost any additional money. It must be something they can earn for a job well done just like money.
 
When my daughter was younger her currency was me turning the shower on for her. I had no idea why, but this was a big deal for her. Every day when she asked me to turn the shower on for her I would evaluate her behavior for the day and then determine whether or not she had earned her currency.
 
Similarly, I had a client whose 3-year-old son was saying “damn” all the time and she wanted to know how to get rid of it. The answer was simple, his currency was changing into his pajamas when he got home from school. Now this was no longer something that he could do for free, he had to earn that privilege. Magically, he stopped saying “damn”!

Other examples of currency that I have come across include: letting your child choose the song you play in the car, picking out what to eat for dinner etc. Every child is unique in what their currency is but with a little investigating I am confident you will find what it is!
 
Love,
Elise

Tips for back to school

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As the relaxing days of summer are winding down (In Florida we go back
to school in less than 2 weeks), I think as parents we are holding our breath in anxiety. We remember the arguments we had with our kids, the deadlines for school projects and of course the dreaded early morning drop offs.

Here are some of my tips to making the transition easier as the kids go off to school.

  1. Never let them see you sweat. What does that mean? Don’t start complaining about going back to school and having early mornings again. Remember that little ones are always watching. Model what you want your kids to do.

  2. Start practicing some math and reading skills again. Don’t set a strict schedule. Just enough to get their feet back into the “work pool”.

  3. Remember this is THEIR school experience, not yours. Try not to hover too much or stress too much. A little suffering never hurt a kid

Enjoy your last few weeks with the ki.ds. Time goes by so fast.

Happy parenting,
Elise

What makes a great mom?

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Happy Mother’s Day

What is a great mother? People have different definitions of a great mom. My definition changed when I became a mother. Some moms make everything pretty for their kids. Some are amazing PTA moms and are always the class mom or maybe you see yourself as an average mom. I can assure you, there is no such thing. There are shitty moms but never average. In fact, if you are reading this, you are definitely not an average mom. How do I know that? Because you wouldn’t be reading about moms if you were average.
So I will tell you my version of an exceptional Mommy. The person that always puts their children before themselves. A person who even when it doesn’t feel good to do the right thing, does it. No need for accolades (although if we get some, that is much appreciated) because they do it when no one is looking. They fight tirelessly and fearlessly for their children and know when to let go and teach their babies how to fight for themselves. So if you make birthday presents beautiful or are the PTA mom that’s just the cherry on top. Unconditional love is the gift of the mother. Although we are not perfect and may not always do the exact right thing, we are Mother’s. We are warriors for our babies. So this Mother’s Day let me salute all of you for your amazing work for your kids. Thank you for putting in the time and energy even when it feels like your kiddies don’t deserve it. Enjoy being taken care of on this honorary day.


Happy parenting.
 Elise

How to succeed in an argument.

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Is it even possible to succeed in argument?  Absolutely. 

Have you ever been in an argument and yell the same thing over and over again only to not be heard? Do you wonder: ”How can you not agree with me when my point is so valid?” I will tell you why. Your delivery sucks! That’s right. your delivery sucks and therefore you didn’t communicate effectively. You lost your audience when you started screaming. If you want to learn how to argue effectively, follow these simple steps.

  1. Stop yelling. And if you need to yell because you are so mad, leave the room and yell by yourself. Yell whatever damaging insults you want to yell at your spouse or child to the wall instead. If you are still mad quickly watch a funny video to shift your mindset.

  2. Once you have calmed down think about what you want your end result to be. Is nagging going to accomplish this? No. Is screaming going to accomplish this? No. Is calmly stating facts and feelings going to accomplish this. Yes.

  3. Always give an example of how this may effect the other person if the roles were reversed. If your feelings are hurt because you were called a name, ask them how they would feel. And if it wouldn’t hurt their feelings think of something that would and how they would like it. Then you have made your point.



So the next time you feel your blood boil and want to scream like a lunatic follow these simple steps to get your point across.

Can your child play alone?

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This afternoon Payton and I got home from her gymnastics class (no she is not an over scheduled child) and she turned on the tv. I took all of her hand held electronics away about a month ago. So she’s been watching all of her favorite animal shows on tv. Seems fairly innocuous. There was just something about the way she walked in and immediately went straight to the tv. It bothered me. The tv seemed to have the same hold on her as the tablet, phone and computer.  Gut instincts kicked in and I said: “Turn it off”. Suddenly I was frightened that my daughter, child of a parenting coach, doesn’t know how to play alone. My fear worsened when she looked at me and said: “What are we doing?” I said: “I’m working.”  Fear running through my veins. I’m thinking to myself please let this child take that answer and begin playing alone. Well the universe must have heard me because she said: “Ok,” walked away and did her own thing.

What’s my point? I have two:

  1. Why was I scared? I’m the mother, I’m in charge. That’s right everybody, I am just like you. I am sometimes scared of my kids! Not often and I never let them know.

  2. I have been doing the right thing. My daughter and I are pretty glued together. Sometimes I have to remind myself to step away from her and allow her time to be alone, figure out life and be bored.

Now I’m sitting here writing this and she is upstairs playing in her room. So the next time your child seems like they are having too much screen time, do my little test. Tell them to turn it off and go play by themselves. If it’s easy for them, keep up the great work. If it’s a bit more difficult, time to pull back on the electronics and let your child learn how to play alone. They may need some assistance if they haven’t been taught how. Encourage reading a book, coloring, playing outside if old enough or making a fort. Anything.

Happy parenting!

Elise 

If only I were the "perfect" parent.

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.Don’t strive for perfection, strive for greatness.

I used to compare myself to those mothers whose desserts and nutritious dinners were Pinterest worthy. I don’t enjoy cooking. It is definitely a chore for me to put a balanced meal on the table for my kids. But what is perfect anyway? It’s a very fair yet debated question. I asked this question on my Facebook page. I received different and amazing responses. I find this question interesting because everyone used to tell me I am such an amazing parent because of everything I did for my son as a child as it related to his autism. Yes I agree, I am finally able to accept praises concerning that part of parenting. But I feel I could have done better and more.

What’s the parenting coach's idea of the “perfect” parent? My experience and age have taught me there is no such thing as a perfect parent, but rather an amazing parent. This is the parent that is present when they are with their kids. They are not on their phones. This is the parent that teaches their child by modeling the behavior that they want their children to have. This is the parent that is forgiving, warm and accepting of who their children are and not who they want them to be. This is the parent the advocates for their child when the child can’t. This is the parent that punishes because they know the lesson is important to teach. I try to be all these things all the time but sometimes I fail and that’s ok. None of us are perfect. We just have to always be the best we can be and that may change minute to minute depending on our circumstances.

Be kind to yourself. You are doing awesome.
Happy parenting!

Elise 

Spend money on an experience

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The trend today is for young adults to spend their money on experiences such as travel rather than on possessions. I took a page out of their book and decided to go with my kids to the local theme parks, Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure in Orlando. We had a blast. It wasn’t spring break or any other holiday. We went just to get away. Although my aging neck and back prevented me from riding the fun roller coasters that I usually do, seeing my kids happy was enough. I was glad to take on the role of sunglasse holder as the kids went on the rides. Both were so relaxed and happy to get a break from school work. Payton was actually skipping from ride to ride.  I realized all the time I spent making sure they got along and respected one another paid off as I saw them holding hands walking onto the rides together.

Of course I couldn’t help but get in another teachable parenting moment. We were leaving and Spencer said: “Uggh, I don’t want to go back to work and school.” My response: “This is why it’s so important to do well in school so you can go away for fun little trips to reset yourself.” He ignored me, but I had to say it.

We shared so many laughs and made memories. The next time you have a choice between a gift for yourself or an experience, go for the experience. Memories last a lifetime.




Happy parenting!

Elise 

Easy, inexpensive Valentines Day presents for your kids.

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Each year I give my kids little gifts of love that reflect them. This year I thought it would be cool to do something that fulfills all of the 5 love languages (The Five Love Languages by Dr. Gary Chapman, great book, a must read). That way I am sure they will know the depth of my love. After all, if they don’t interpret love by receiving gifts, I have to make sure they know just how loved they really are. Here are my ideas to show each love language:
 

  1. Words of affirmation - Make a banner and list all the reasons we love our kids.

  2. Quality time - Carve out time where you can be one on one with each child. It doesn’t have to be hours. Maybe just a date to go get ice cream. Whatever it is, it will be your time together to connect.

  3. Receiving gifts - We think every child would like gifts, but that is not always the case. The key to great gift giving is something that shows thought. Maybe they have mentioned wanting something in particular. Or you recognize something that they need. When you do this, it shows much more thought than just a gift card.

  4. Acts of service - Lend a helping hand. People want validation that they work hard at whatever they do and kids are no exception. So, give them a little help with a chore or homework that would normally be done alone.

  5. Physical touch - Some people don’t need a hug while others crave the physical connection. Recently, my daughter has been really craving this and it is just fine by me. We actually set aside time just to cuddle on the couch. Again, a great time just to reset ourselves.

 
Valentine’s Day is a great way to show our loved ones how much they mean to us. I hope this will inspire you to show your kiddies just how much they mean to you. 


Happy parenting!

Elise 

Stop trying so hard!

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I went on a walk with my 17 1/2 year old son last night, and the coolest thing happened. He talked to me about really important stuff;  college, friends, work, money, life values. Holy shit- if I had paid him a million dollars, I wouldn’t have gotten as much information out of him. Parents are always asking tons of questions to their kids, and it is usually followed by very short answers. I have recently learned to stop talking so much and start listening. But it gets tough to listen when they won’t talk. So below are a few suggestions/ideas to get even the most tight lipped teenager to talk.

1.  Do something THEY want (or enjoy) doing. Spencer was going for an evening walk last night, and he asked me if I wanted to join. Not really something I wanted to do at 8pm, but private one on one time with him is so infrequent that I hopped at the chance. Carpe Diem..

2.    Don’t ask too many questions when you are doing their preferred activity.  This is when their defenses are down, because of this, you will get a more authentic child without their guard up.  This is when they will start talking without you even asking. Its a beautiful thing, they will come to you.

3.  Be sure to get to know some facts about their hobbies, likes and dislikes,  (or fears) so you have some common ground to talk about down the road. 

4. Finally, don’t push, let the magic happen all on its own. 

Happy parenting!

Elise

Happy Holidays!

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The kids hadn’t even finished their Halloween candy and I was already getting excited for the holiday season. It started when I was a little girl and I would come down to South Florida to visit my grandparents. I would come back with a Jewish tan: dark on the front, pale on the back. When I went to college, I loved coming home and going shopping, having my mom cook and do my laundry for me and getting a break from school.  

Now, as I have my own family, this is also a favorite time of the year. My ex-husband wasn’t Jewish so I was able to get the coveted Christmas tree which became the highlight for me, another place to make something pretty. After I divorced, I kept the tradition of the Christmas tree (don’t call the Jewish police). Rather than worry about my perfectly matched ornaments and bows, I let my children pick out the tree theme. They did what every child does: the multicolor lights and ornaments. I embraced my new kid-friendly themed tree in exchange for my sophisticated tree of the past. My holidays now became about the experience instead of what the holiday looked like. My perfect tree topper was now a crooked ornament that has never quite fit, but it is magical.  

I love everything about the holidays. I love to shop for everyone’s presents, picking out the tree, decorating the tree, making potato latkes and seeing all the children tear open their presents with anticipation.

This holiday season, try to do one thing new that is super fun that can be a new tradition with your family.  Maybe something goofy, or a tree that’s just for your kids.  Maybe let them each pick out an ornament, or if you celebrate a different holiday, create a dish that you and your kids pick out and make together every year.  

Remember that holidays can be difficult for people so be considerate. While these times often come with stress, remember the beauty that surrounds this time. It is a time of miracles and celebration. 

Wishing you very happy holidays! 

Elise

Nighttime Routines

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Think about the way you put your child to sleep. Do you throw them in the bed and then leave? 

Now let’s think about your own nighttime routine. Do you go straight to sleep when you get into bed or do you read or watch TV to unwind?  Of course you do.  We all need to unwind before bed… and kids are no different.  I feel so strongly that connecting with your kids every day is important even for just 15 minutes/day per child.  I have found the best time to do this is at night. I split my nighttime routine into 3 distinct parts: 

  1. Doing something goofy: my daughter and I play with the snapchat filters for about 5 minutes. We laugh, we record ourselves the funny voices, we act silly. You could also read a book (funny voices encouraged). Whatever you can do to engage with them on their level is awesome!

  2. Lights out: this is the perfect time for them to start talking. As soon as the lights go out, kids will always start to talk. Why? BECAUSE THEY DON’T WANT TO GO TO SLEEP. You know how when you pick them up from school and ask them how their day was, they have nothing to say? They don’t talk because they are tired. But nighttime is when they DON’T want to go to sleep so they will tell you everything you ever wanted to know. This is a wonderful time to connect. These conversations often times bring about many teachable moments. Seize these opportunities. Open a judgment free zone and listen intently. Gently guide them with your input.

  3. No more talking: lay quietly for just a few minutes. Let them feel the security of you with them and then leave before they fall asleep.

Happy sleeping!

Elise  

Listen

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Recently, a dear friend of mine told me that it may be time to stop talking and just listen to my child. I had never heard something so absurd ;) 

I thought I had mastered the art of listening, but since people pay me to hear what I have to say, I often forget the power of truly listening. There comes a certain age that your kid no longer listens intently to what you are saying. In fact, they usually do the opposite of what you tell them to do. 

So what do we do? We listen. And it can be really difficult. Not difficult in the way of skiing on a black diamond slope; difficult like "I have to actually bite my tongue in order to not speak." The real kind of difficult. It's easier to just tell them what to do. But we must listen and allow them to feel heard. Ultimately, that's what every single human being wants: validation.

So what is this listening thing? Listening is having faith that you have taught your child the lessons of life and that eventually they will come up with the right decisions even if they take a wrong turn down a dark alley; faith that they will find their way back to what you have taught them. Listening gives your child the freedom to make a mistake and come back and ask for help.It builds trust. 

Ready to take the listening challenge? Hit "reply" and let me know how it goes!

Elise

Happy Thanksgiving

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Ah, I love Thanksgiving. It's the perfect time to think about what we are thankful for and take inventory of our lives. You might have already started counting your blessings but if you've gotten lost in holiday shenanigans, I invite you to start now: 

What are you really thankful for? 

It can be something that you usually take for granted or something big that happened this year. Gratitude is gratitude. Plus, if you need even more of an incentive to be grateful, check out this article on all the health benefits of focusing on what you're grateful for. 


 Also,  remember some family and friends may not have Thanksgiving plans... I'd encourage you to reach out and invite them to your celebration. Being alone during the holidays can be very lonely and difficult. Payton felt destroyed when her friends didn't invite her for Halloween plans...  imagine how adults feel without anywhere to go for the holidays.  

 

Thanksgiving often comes with some family drama. Instead, be proactive and decide that you will have a different perspective. Understand that no one is perfect. The annoying parent that seems to only “criticize” you? They might just be really scared and doing the best they can.  Try to empathize with the path they have taken in life to arrive at the place they are. Perhaps they only know negativity. Show compassion through your own positivity.

 

Wondering what the hell you are going to do with the kids the entire vacation? Rest and relax!  Sleep in, make a mess, let the kids come in your bed for snuggles. You will miss this time in a few years. Do things that your normal schedule wouldn't allow. for. Bake, sing loudly, dance, play. Enjoy the togetherness of family time.  It’s a beautiful blessing.  If you have a toddler that screams and throws temper tantrums, take this opportunity to do some behavior modification techniques while you have the time to devote.

Finally, relax and enjoy the blessings of life and family.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Love, 

Elise 

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Hi Friends, 

This evening, I'm writing to you right after I put my little one to bed (she's not so little anymore... almost ten years old).  I was reminded of how precious time is. Time with our children, time with our spouse, time with our family. It sounds super cliche but it really does go by so fast.

So I want to ask you, are you present when you're with your kids? Are you really in the moment with them, even for just for 15 minutes a day? Sometimes we are "with" them all day but are we really present?  

This week, instead of getting annoyed when your children interrupt you, try actually listening. I get it... when we are busy with all of the other pressing responsibilities that go along with parenting, even 15 minutes seems like a lot; but find the place in your life where children are not a distraction, but rather a gift.

There will come a time in the not- so- distant future that you will be beggingthem to talk to you. So enjoy all this time now, it goes by so fast. Be in the moment.

If you're feeling inspired and want to connect with other like-minded parents, come on over to my Facebook group. We've really created a community over there and I feel so honored to be a part of it. This Thursday night, at 9 pm, I will be doing a Facebook live. So come with an open heart and lots of questions. I'll see you then!

Lots of love,

Elise 

Do you ever take a vacation from parenting?

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Hi Friends,

 

TGIF! As parents, the weekends don’t necessarily mean we’re off duty… parenting is a full time role! The weekend is often spent immersed in our children’s lives and often, we neglect our own needs. 

 

Today, I want to remind you of something very important: It’s okay — actually, it’s necessary — to take time for yourself. It’s best for you and for your children. Here are some tips for preventing burnout: 

 

1. Know your limits: Rather than waiting to have a meltdown, give yourself a time out. You are the leader. You need to be well rested and ready to tackle the day. Take a bath, go on a run, listen to some music and dance. (Even blasting music in the house and dancing with the kids is an awesome way to get moving and release some endorphins). 

 

2. Take a social media break: As parents, we want the very best our kids. But it messes with our minds when we scroll through Facebook and see the “picture perfect” lives of others. Just like knowing when to take a “time out,” know when to say goodbye to social media. You’d be amazed at what 3 days off can do… 

 

3. Now that you’re taking a break from Facebook, you can put this extra time to great use! Get organized for the week ahead, relax a bit, eat good food. Take advantage of the weekend to plant seeds for the week ahead while recharging your battery.

 

Have a great weekend!

 

Elise 

Laugh all weekend long

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Is there anything better than a child's laugh?

My kids and I were sitting at the dinner table last week and I must have said something funny because both of them started hysterically laughing. So then I started to laugh uncontrollably; the kind of laughter that makes your stomach hurt. What better medicine, right? 

I looked at my kids and wanted to savor the moment. I wanted to savor their innocence and their ability to laugh anything. 

I thought back to the different ways I used to make my kids: talking in a goofy voice, making fun of myself, and — the most fun —  dancing around the kitchen with whisks as our microphones. We serenaded our pretend audiences to our favorite LIVE song.  

It's so important to have laughter and fun in the house. We get crazy running our kids around from activity to activity, making sure they are eating correctly and getting their homework finished. So often, we lose sight of just having a good laugh. I want my home to always be the place that brings my kids joy, comfort and laughter. 

So when things get just a bit too hectic in your house, step back and have a good laugh. It will work wonders. 

Till next time, 

Elise

Have you ever felt misunderstood?

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Have you ever been in an argument with your spouse, sibling, or a friend where you felt utterly misunderstood? 
 

Think about how you felt.


Frustrated, alone, confused? In most cases, these arguments are on an even playing field. We often yell until you are understood. We fight until our feelings becomes validated. 

Now think about how it feels to be a child and not feel understood. Think about how it feels to be punished for yelling and being disrespectful. They, too, have opinions, wants, and needs; but if it doesn't align with their parents', then often times they are dismissed. Think about how you would feel if your spouse dismissed your feelings? Your reaction may be to do something to get their attention to make your point.

Children feel the same way!


Next time your child starts acting out or "fighting back” to a request, just ask “why?”. Give them the validation they want through listening and making them feel respected and worthy. This automatically diffuses the situation and makes them feel less defensive. This opens up a discussion instead of an argument. Validating feelings doesn't mean you agree, it just means you hear them and are offering empathy. 

The next time you find yourself in an argument. Step back, listen to the other person, validate and then come together to come up with a plan. It will work wonders. 

Elise