By Erica Rood, M.A. Ed.
Hardships often prepare ordinary people for an extraordinary destiny. C.S. Lewis.
Sometimes it’s hard to see the extraordinary destiny that can lie within rejection. It is often accompanied by powerful forces, including blame, disappointment, and self-doubt. Coping positively with rejection requires a strong sense of self, a broad perspective, and resiliency. Many of these traits that are still forming in preteens and teens, but with a few simple tips, parents can teach their children how to turn a setback into an opportunity.
Honor their experiences.
Show your teen that you value her unique experience by listening to understand, rather than problem solve, and validating her unique point-of-view. When your teen feels understood and affirmed, she will feel more confident and prepared to handle challenges that come her way.
Try: Listen with an open mind and open heart. Do not interrupt or jump to conclusions. Instead give her space to talk and try to relate to her point of view. Validate the feelings you see her expressing, by saying “That must have been really hard for you. I’m sorry you had to go through that.”
It sounds strange but when you view failures as opportunities for growth, your teen will do the same. Very often “failing” is an indication that we need to refocus or redirect. Failure is a valuable learning experience.
Try: Broaden her perspective around failure by asking open-ended questions like, “What could you do differently next time?” or “What do you think you’ll do next?”
Let go! Support vs. rescue.
This may be the hardest step. It’s natural to want to rescue your teen when she’s in a sticky situation, but she will never develop her resiliency muscle if she thinks you’ll solve all her problems. It’s important to become aware of the difference between support and rescue.
Try: Find opportunities to let her take the lead, then honor her experience, including if she fails. Bonus: Examine your experience with support vs. rescue. Notice when you tend to step in to “save” her in situations that perhaps, she could handle herself.