December 17, 2017

5 Ways to Help Children Cope With Rejection

help children cope with rejectionAs a parent, your first instinct is to protect your child from any pain she might encounter, whether physical or emotional. While you can and certainly should make sure that the environment in which your child lives is as safe as possible and that she’s protected from physical harm, it’s simply not possible to shield her from the sting of disappointment or rejection. In fact, even though it probably goes against every protective instinct you have, you actually shouldn’t attempt to fight your daughter’s battles for her or stop disappointment before it starts. Eventually, your child will encounter a situation in which her feelings get hurt or things don’t go according to plan. If you’ve always swooped in to protect her during childhood, a teenager or young adult may be sorely unequipped to manage disappointment on her own. Rather than trying to prevent your child from ever being disappointed, here are 5 ways to help children cope with rejection instead.


Talk About Ways to Improve Her Chances Next Time

When your daughter doesn’t make the team or fails to snag the big role in a school play that she desperately wants, helping her to isolate areas where she could stand to improve is actually an effective way of helping her cope, as well as preparing for her next big shot. While you don’t want the conversation to turn into one where you point out her flaws and coach her on ways to be perfect, you can ask your child which areas she thinks she needs to work on and what she can do to prepare for the next time she tries out. Remember the old adage about falling off of a horse, and encourage her to get right back up, rather than walking away in defeat.


Avoid Comforting Her With Food

If your daughter learns to associate food with comfort, especially when she’s feeling emotionally vulnerable, it can affect her attitudes toward food altogether. A child that’s prone to “eating her feelings” can begin to suffer from severe body image issues later, especially if she begins to gain weight from the habit. Instead of using food as a means of soothing disappointment in ways that can create a problematic relationship with it later in life, look for productive and active diversions.


Be Aware of Your Own Reaction

If you express feelings of disappointment due to your child’s first rejection in a way that makes her feel like you’re disappointed in her, it can make the pain of that rejection even more difficult to manage. Make sure that you never make your child feel ashamed or like she’s failed to live up to your expectations of her, even if you do feel as if she wasn’t performing at her best.


Handle Peer Rejections Carefully

Learning that your daughter is being snubbed by the other girls in her class or that her best friend has broken up with her may make you feel angry at the other children, but seeing you express that anger doesn’t actually help your child manage her own feelings. Instead of lashing out at the other kids or dismissing your daughter’s pain with adages about life not being a popularity contest, look for ways to help her branch out. Kids that are joined by a shared interest will usually be more friendly towards one another, so discuss teams or clubs that cater to her interests that might also help her get to know other kids with similar tastes. The girly-girls might not be as welcoming to an athletic girl, but that rejection won’t sting so much if your child is able to surround herself with others like her. Resisting the urge to call other girls’ parents might be difficult, but it can also mean the difference between quiet disinterest and outright shunning.


Don’t Minimize Her Feelings

While you might feel like explaining to your child that the loss of a friend or being cut from the team isn’t the end of the world is helping to put the rejection into proper perspective, she might feel like you’re minimizing the experience. Let your child know that it’s okay for her to feel hurt, and it’s even okay to cry about the situation if she needs to. Empathizing with your daughter and letting her know that rejection is a painful but normal part of life, and that her reaction to the situation is valid removes any additional stress she might be under because she’s worried that her reactions aren’t normal.

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