When my daughter was in junior high, her closest friends turned on her and wouldn’t hang out with her anymore. She would try to buy their affection with gifts and be what they wanted her to be. I ached watching her go through it. Ultimately, she stopped trying to be what they wanted her to be. She developed her own sense of style and discovered who she was and accepted herself for it. The kids started to respect her for her stance in her own individuality and some of them started to dress like her. In high school, she won these same kids over and they admired her.
Here are some ways to help your kids when they are dealing with rejection.
Don’t treat them like a victim.
It’s excruciating to watch your child be wounded by other children. It often stirs up your own school rejection experiences. But pitying them and validating them as victims only influences them to believe they are less than everyone else. The thought behind that is: If I believe that I’m a victim to someone else’s opinion of me, I am less than them in some way. If I believe I am a valuable person and who I am is worth knowing better, I can realize the person rejecting me is not only wrong but small for projecting their opinion on me. It’s important to show empathy and compassion while reminding them they are more than what these few people think about them.
Remind them of who they are.
Point out what you admire about them. Tell your kids what positive attributes others (grandparents, teachers, other kids) have said about them. Brainstorm with them about what they like about themselves. Write out a list together of all these things and put it up in their room where they’ll see it often. Repeat them yourself as often as you can.
Tell your kids what positive attributes others (grandparents, teachers, other kids) have said about them.
Share with them that everyone feels inadequate at times.
Find speeches of famous people they admire talking about their own feelings of inadequacy. Tell them stories of your own and how you overcome feeling less than others. And remind them that most of the other kids in school are feeling that way too. Perhaps they can find someone who’s feeling rejected too and become friends.
Help them find where they shine.
Get them involved in an activity where they will be outstanding. Whether it be ballet, golf, chess, or helping those less fortunate, everyone has a place where they can excel. For my daughter, it was fashion. She discovered she loved fashion. She started to draw dress designs and experiment with her clothes and what she wore. A lot of those things made me scratch my head in wonder in their eclecticism. But the other kids started to appreciate it and copy it. It boosted her self-esteem and she stopped caring what others thought of her. She had become a leader.
How have you helped your children overcome rejection?