6 Ways to Help a Teen Overcome Rejection

Provide support to a teen who struggling to deal with rejection.
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Whether your teen doesn’t get accepted to the college of his choice, or his invitation to the prom was declined, rejection stings. And if your teen lacks the resilience to deal with rejection in a healthy way, being turned down could become a serious problem.

Rejection is a normal part of life. Nearly everyone gets denied a promotion, passed up for a job, or dumped by a love interest at one time or another.

So it’s important to give your teen the tools and skills he’ll need to deal with hard times.

Here are six ways to help your teen overcome rejection:

1. Build a Healthy Self-Worth Foundation

A teen who thinks he’s only as good as his math grade, or who believes she’s only worth something when she’s in a relationship, will really struggle with rejection. So, long before your teen ever receives his first major rejection, it’s important to help him build healthy feelings of self-worth.

Raise a well-rounded teen by exposing him to a variety of activities and opportunities. That way, he won’t think his self-worth rests solely on one skill or a single unique quality. Help your teen build healthy self-esteem and rejection will be less devastating.

2. Validate Your Teen’s Feelings

Saying something like, “There are other fish in the sea,” or, “Quit being so dramatic,” will only cause your teen to feel worse.

Validate your teen’s feelings by saying, “I know it hurts to get turned down,” or “I understand it’s disappointing that you didn’t make the team.”

When your teen feels heard—and validated—he’s likely to experience a fair amount of relief. Validation can help get your teen started on a path to healing.

3. Encourage Healthy Coping Skills

Teens who aren’t equipped to deal with rejection struggle to deal with the pain. If left unaddressed, they may turn to unhealthy coping skills – like alcohol or food. Other teens turn their pain inward, and become withdrawn and moody.

Help your teen identify healthy ways to deal with distress. Writing in a journal, talking to friends, exercising, or participating in a hobby are just a few activities that can help your teen deal with the uncomfortable emotions that accompany rejection.

4. Re-frame Unrealistic and Unhealthy Self-Talk

The fresh sting of rejection could cause your teen to think exaggeratedly negative. An unhealthy inner monologue that includes statements like, “I’ll never get into college,” or, “I’ll never get over this,” can keep your teen stuck in a bad mood.

Listen to your teen’s reflections. Without minimizing your teen’s emotions, offer some gentle reminders that help put things in perspective. Say something like, “I know you really wanted to go to that college, but you can still go to a different college and become a doctor.”

5. Celebrate Your Teen’s Courage

Each rejection is a sign that your teen really put himself out there. Acknowledge the courage that it took to challenge himself.

Say something like, “It was really brave of you to go to that job interview. Not many teens your age would be willing to do that.”

6. Develop a Plan to Move Forward

Don’t rush your teen to move on after she’s experienced a serious rejection. But in due time, help her develop a plan to move forward.

If she didn’t make the basketball team, does she want to work on improving her skills or would she prefer to pick up a different sport? If she got turned down by the college of her dreams, what college can she attend?

Actively problem-solve together. Discuss your teen’s options and identify how she can use rejection as an opportunity to grow stronger and become better.

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