Rejection is never easy.
What is worse, as a parent, is not your own rejection but the rejection of your child.
You feel responsible and take the rejection personally.
You ask yourself, how did I fail as a parent? But even more so, you ask yourself – what can I say or do to mend my child’s broken heart?
As a mother or father, your first instinct is to take on the pain, but you’re usually at a loss as to what to do in the face of your child’s rejection.
Being a teen is a complicated time in one’s life. Throw in a rejection and your child’s self-esteem will dramatically decrease, even if you’re not aware of it.
Here are few helpful suggestions on how to parents can help their child get through the pain of rejection by developing their child’s spirit, creating a more adaptive young person, all while strengthening the relationship with these children.
1. Listen to her vent (or cry)
In the midst of crisis, there is nothing more important, simple and hard to do as a parent than listening intently and with compassion. Do your best not to give advice or judge.
This is a time to offer a shoulder to cry on, a compassionate ear and a warm embrace.
Leave the scorn, questioning and more refined knowledge at the door. Although you know that this heartbreak and rejection is transitory, to him or her, this feels like the end of the world. Just think back to a time when you felt rejected as a teen.
Listening or allowing your son or daughter to cry, without expectation, is the most helpful first step any parent can take to help their teen in the face of any sort of rejection, whether it be a broken heart, an “F” on a test or a no from his or her first choice college.
Take the time to listen – it’s that simple.
2. Make individualized, forward-thinking goals
To get your child over this funk, think about forward momentum and small, measurable and attainable steps to attain those goals.
Did your teen experience her first breakup? If so, plan a girls’ night in together with her best girl friends for a night of chick flicks, baking and decorating cookies or even a makeshift spa.
Did your teen bomb a test? Set up a meeting with the teacher. Have your child ask for extra credit, if possible. Get even more creative and create flash cards, “quizlets” and an outline for the next test.
Is it a college rejection? Look into other options, whether it be an amazing backup school or a community college where, through hard work and dedication, she can transfer to the college of her dreams. With smart, realistic goals, your child will instantly feel uplifted and on the road to success, with self-esteem in tow.
3. Focus on the good, the difference and the change
In every situation, you can refocus your teen’s thinking to something good and positive, a difference he or she can make or a change he or she can make either in herself, in the situation, or in the community.
After your teen has had her cry, try to reframe the problem to something good, the unexpected but positive collateral damage of rejection. Focus your energy and his, on something where he excels.
Is he great at maintaining relationships? Then throw a party. Perhaps she’s a natural athlete and plays sports? Invite the whole family to the next game. Or try something new and take a cooking class together. If there is nothing positive to focus on (which there probably is), try the difference.
Ask how this rejection has changed your teen or made him stronger for life’s curve balls? If both of these tactics leave you wanting, try creating a shift!
Ask your teen to volunteer with you to gain some perspective about life. It is near impossible as a young volunteer not to feel good, uplifted and full of gratitude. Giving back to your community will not only make you feel good, but will open up eyes, hearts, and minds.
Dealing with rejection is especially hard for the parent of a teen. Since your teen probably feels rejection more acutely than you do, it is imperative that as a parent you offer love, support, and perspective.
Listen intently, create goals, and focus on the positive to bump your teen’s self esteem and create a more resilient young adult.