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Counselor’s Hub: Help Kids Deal with Rejection
23 Oct
  • Counselor’s Hub: Help Kids Deal with Rejection

A bit of rejection and disappointment is good for kids, as long as they learn how to cope with it....... 
One of the keys to functioning socially and emotionally is the ability to deal with disappointment and rejection. 

Most children experience some type of rejection from their peers throughout childhood. One study found that even popular children were rejected about one quarter of the time when they approached children in school. 

Paradoxically, children’s experience of rejection and disappointment at school is good for them, as long as it’s balanced with successful experiences too. They learn that they can cope and solve problems in their own way and that bad experiences don’t last forever. 

And they learn that sadness and disappointment can be managed too, which is an important lesson to learn to take into adolescence and beyond, when life is full of ups and downs. It is important to normalize and experience sadness and disappointment as normal human emotions that do not break us.

Helping them move on 


Most children recover from such rejection. They move on and form constructive, worthwhile relationships but some children need different levels of help. They often take rejection personally, being angry and frustrated maybe blaming themselves or others. As a parent it is useful to listen, understand the hurt they feel, also challenge your child’s unhelpful thinking and encourage them to look for new friendship opportunities. When a friend leaves which happens more frequently in an International School,  your child might be left and it hurts. They can experience a mild form of grief.  Parents can help children understand that rejection and disappointment may happen for any number of reasons that are unrelated to them. It is important to support and be there for your child but not to over interrogate and investigate as that can lead to catastrophizing the situation, which can send the message that he/she can’t cope. What does your child need? Love, affection, security, a safe place to land and time to experience the range of emotions they are feeling. Watch that they are functioning within normal limits, sleeping, eating, engaging in tasks. Distraction can still work for 8-9 year old’s, and older children, do something enjoyable to give their mind and body a break from any sadness. Physical activity is great to release endorphins, music and ice-cream tend to work!

Present a confident mindset and demonstrate that positiveness to your child, as children grow stronger when they overcome their difficulties. The challenge for a parent is to build and maintain children’s confidence levels to help them get through the rough times. 

One way to help your child deal with rejection and disappointment is to talk through problems or difficulties, recognising and accepting their feelings. Talking with someone they love and trust in the first place is recommended. Talk about various scenarios, discussing possible outcomes. Keep things simple. 

Your attitude as a parent can make a huge difference to how a child reacts. If you see rejection or disappointments as problems then your child will most likely adopt and model this view. See them as challenges then your child, in all likelihood, will pick up your upbeat view and deal with disappointments easily. After all, confidence is catching! 

To help children handle rejection and disappointment try the following four strategies: 

  • Model optimism. Watch how you present the world to children, as they will pick up your view. 
  • Tell children how you handle disappointment and rejection. Not only is it reassuring for children to know that their parents understand how they feel but they can learn a great deal by how their parents handle situations. 
  • Help children recognise times in the past when they bounced back from disappointment. Help them recognise those same strategies can be used again. 
  • Laugh together. Humour is a great coping mechanism. It helps put disappointment in perspective. It helps them understand that things will get better. They always do. 

The stronger the wind the stronger the trees is the notion here. Supporting kids to handle life’s hurdles helps them to develop a lasting sense of resilience, which is essential for good mental and emotional health. 

Should you have any concerns, please contact School Counselor Ken at schoolcounselor@msb.edu.cn