Have you ever faced rejection? If yes, then you’ll be able to relate to this like no one else. And if not, then try to understand this for your children. We know that rejection can really hurt, but it can also cause damage to our psychological well-being that goes beyond emotional pain. Scientific research shows that the experience of rejection is strongly similar to that of physical pain. Rejection and the fear of being rejected can hold you back from taking risks and reaching for big goals. Now think about what it can do to your child if they face rejection.
It can wreak havoc on the child’s psyche. It is inevitable that your children will feel rejected and disappointed at times. But you definitely don’t want your children to develop an identity based on rejection early on as that will make life harder for them, and you don’t want their personality to develop around that fear of rejection. So when they complain about something like “you like my brother better” or “my classmates don’t want to play with me” then you need to take those things seriously. Teenagers can face rejection by a potential romantic partner, being turned down while applying to a college, or during a job search. If a child perceives himself rejected by someone then they will inevitably have self-worth issues. And will think that they have little value and can act in a way that causes others to walk all over them.
Types of social rejection that children might face:
- Rejection faced in the family – When a trusted loved one rejects you it can deeply impact self-confidence and self-worth. This form of rejection is likely to affect a child throughout life, and it may have serious consequences. It may consist of abandonment, neglect, abuse, and the withholding of love and affection.
- Social rejection – This type of rejection can occur at any age but often begins in childhood. It can include bullying and alienation in school or the workplace. Children who challenge the status quo or who live what is considered “outside the norm” from their society are more prone to social rejection.
- Teenagers can face rejection when they ask someone for a date and are denied. They may also experience rejection while dating or in a relationship.
- Children can face rejection on the basis of appearance which may lead to low self-esteem and low confidence.
How to help your child deal with the fear of rejection?
Prioritize your children – If you or your spouse work too much and don’t spend time with your child, then your child can feel rejected. They don’t understand that you have to work to pay bills. They just need their parents. All you have to do is to take some time for them and make sure that they feel loved and attended to.
Comfort and validate your child’s experience – When they feel understood and validated, it will help them build a sense of self. It also normalizes their feelings and they won’t pile it up. Listen to them and make them understand that the better they are able to feel and tolerate uncomfortable feelings, the stronger and easier it will be for them in the future to handle other situations. Your children may feel disappointed and may need some comfort before they can consider the other alternatives.
Surround them with people who truly care about them – Help them find their circle, like a sports team, or a group of friends. Encourage meaningful and positive relationships with extended family and friends that will help them build their self-esteem over time.
Failed relationships are not a big deal – Make your teenage kids understand that a failed relationship is not rejection. Breakups are a part of life and nothing is permanent. It doesn’t mean that they are not worth being loved or are incapable of it.
Prepare your child for rejection – If you know your child is trying out for a school leadership position or for a sports team, ask them how they might feel if they don’t get selected. Because this allows your child to think about the possibility that they may not get selected and how they might feel or cope if they happen to miss out. It’s about helping children learn how to lose and accept rejection.
Tell them how you handled rejection – By telling them how you have handled rejection in the past, children not only learn effective coping strategies but also feel less alone in their feelings of rejection and disappointment.
YES, experiences of rejection are not easy. But teaching your children that rejection says nothing about them as a person is important because this will help them to grow stronger and resilient.