Raising kids to be rejection-proof is critical for their mental health and happiness. And it is a teachable attribute that should be instilled when they are young.
Life can never be one smooth sailing trip to eternity. There will good times and bad times. How we swim through the choppy seas of failure and rejection determines one’s survival and success. And making our kids rejection-proof is as vital as giving them the best that life has to offer.
As parents, we need to understand that we cannot shield our kids from pain and suffering. In their life journey, they are bound to face numerous challenges and vicissitudes that are bound to derail them. They will fail, get snubbed, turned down, mocked, side-lined, ostracized, bullied, etc.
Most importantly, they will not always win.
All these experiences may make them feel worthless and rejected. They will want to give up and crawl under the covers. Or worse want to commit suicide like the case with many youngsters these days. They just cannot deal with rejection or the fear of being rejected.
Nonetheless, they must be taught how to push on and never give up. And, we as parents play a critical role in instilling beliefs and skills that will help them cope and thrive.
Here are Some Ways to Make your Child Rejection-Proof:
1) Love and Acceptance
Children need to be loved and accepted for who they are not how they should be. Don’t try to turn your kids into that perfect work of art and that you 100% know what is best for them. This creates an undue burden on the child which makes him/her fear ever failing to meet the high parental standards.
Many of the cases of youngsters committing suicide are to do with failing in exams. Parental rejection can set a child up for a lifetime of mental health issues. Childhood is a time for learning, assimilating, and becoming who one is meant to be. You as a parent can smoothly facilitate that process with loving acceptance.
2) Being Good Enough Parent not a Helicopter or a Lawnmower or Tiger Parent
According to, British psychoanalyst Donald Winnicott being a good enough parent is not to smother your child with constant fussings like helicopter or lawnmower or tiger parents do. His studies on child development have shown that babies and children actually benefit when their caregivers fail them in manageable ways.
However, to be good enough, one must know how and when to step in and repair the rupture in the attachment bond.
High self-esteem and confidence stem from the deep belief that Mom/Dad or someone has my back and is always there for me. They will never reject me.
3) Validating and Accepting A Child’s Feelings and Needs
Dismissing and denigrating our child’s needs and feelings is a sure way to make them feel not good enough. Going through life with this belief is a heavy burden to carry. When a child’s internal program says ‘something is wrong with you’ how can they have the capacity to tolerate and regulate being rejected or bullied by their peers.
Telling them to shut up and do as I say will not help their self-esteem. Internalized shame is the result of the false belief a child picks when his/her needs and feelings are not accepted and validated.
Effectively managing our child’s tantrums is the blueprint for how they later handle difficult and stressful times as an adult. However, it is not something that can be taught it is imbibed through attuned parenting.
Moreover, allowing our child space and opportunity to feel their emotions powerfully impact their sense of well-being and confidence.
Being able to deal with our emotions, the good, bad and the ugly is the single most important factor that influences every aspect of our life.
Even when the world rejects them they will still have the resilience to push through the dark fog.
4) Not Over-indulging, Over-Giving or Over-Praising
Your child needs to know there are limits and boundaries. Just giving in and indulging in their every whim will lead them to have unrealistic expectations; not just when they are young but also when they are adults.
Remember, you are always not going to be around to satisfy their every need. You are only creating entitled narcissists but also creating human beings who expect the world to be served to them on a platter without any effort on their part. And when they don’t get what they want they either destroy others or end up self-destructing.
Furthermore, don’t over-praise every small milestone. Yes, they can be commended but just don’t overdo the praise habit. Once kids are caught in the praise-trap of their parents’ expectations, they can’t afford to fail. They will do anything to maintain their status quo. Their self-esteem gets invariably tied to their daily dose of fawning praise of the adults in their life. They fear being judged that they end up lying and cheating just to keep up with their perceived image.
Moreover, when parents and society arbitrarily praise a child and value their achievements rather than their efforts they are only raising a generation of high-anxiety individuals. Any negativity and criticism is a big blow to their fragile sense of self.
5) Not Making Winning The Only Thing That Matters
When I see little kids being pushed by parents to be better than everyone else my heart sinks. What are they gearing their child for – a life of high-stress competition.
Worse nobody likes a pushover. Their peers will be wary and reject them.
No doubt, healthy competition is good. It helps foster excellence and expertise.
But there is a big difference between having a Winning Attitude compared to You Must-Win at all cost. A Winning Attitude says it is okay to lose while a Must-Win attitude wires their brain for a life-time of anxiety.
The dread of not being the best is not the best foundation to handle later challenges.
6) Allowing Them to Fail Without Judgement
Let them do things their way even though you know they will mess up. How else will they learn and become competent?
Practice makes one perfect. You only know what you are capable of when you do something. Small successes with intermittent failure lead to confidence and success.
Effort, persistence, and small doses of failure and success are the building blocks of self-efficacy. That belief that one can manage things without becoming overwhelmed, confused, or distressed.
They should be allowed to fail without judgment and develop at the pace that they feel comfortable. Pressurizing them with your selfish expectations will only make them feel doubtful about their capabilities.
7) Teaching Them Important Life-Skills
Being able to navigate the outside world is a skill all kids need to learn.
According to Julie Lythcott-Haims, author of How to Raise a successful adult every 18-year-old needs to have the following 8 skills:
- Talk To Strangers
- Find His Way Around
- Manage Assignments, Workloads & Deadlines
- Contribute To The Running Of A Household
- Handle Interpersonal Problems
- Cope With Ups And Downs
- Earn And Manage Money
- Able To Take Risks
Also, they need to know how to manage their own boundaries and respect the boundaries of others. They need to be able to say ‘No’ without guilt and accept ‘No’ from others without feeling rejected.
8) Share Inspiring Stories of Success Stories Who Overcame Odds
JK Rowling was turned down by 12 publishers before finding success with Harry Potter books. After a difficult divorce, she struggled as a single-mom while battling depression. She speaks of this time in her life, referring to it as her rock bottom. Even though it was a distressing time, Rowling did not allow her failures to define her. She pushed on and succeeded despite the odds.
Sylvester Stallone had it rough from his birth. Complications during delivery led to the paralysis of the lower left side of his face. Due to this physical impairment, Stallone was bullied and taunted at school. In his quest to become an actor, he was rejected over 1500 times. Finally, the actor said instead of giving up after the rejection, he decided to take control of the situation and write his own screenplay which ended becoming the blockbuster Rocky.
History is full of stories of iconic figures who bounced back from failure and rejection, eventually succeeding. Life is tough, but when the tough get going the universe rewards their persistence.
What I learned from 100 days of Rejection | Jia Jiang
Rejection Is Just A Re-direction
Many a time, rejection is just the universe re-directing you to something better. Being hopeful of a better tomorrow means being open to the infinite possibilities.
You cannot forever protect your child from life’s slings. No matter how much money or fame or success they have there will always be someone out there who will not like them and reject.
They will get rejected at some time in their life. What matters though is brushing away the feeling of not good enough and trying again. Courage is not the absence of fear but pushing through with the belief that one will emerge victorious.
One of my fave quotes by Sylvester Stallone:
I take rejection as someone blowing a bugle in my ear to wake me up and get going, rather than retreat.
Becoming rejection-proof means ‘accepting’ rejections as a part of life’. Enough experience of rejection in childhood will ensure your kid will grow with a pretty thick skin and the mindset to never give up.
Image Source: Pexels
Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance Paperback – Angela Duckworth
Pound The Stone: 7 Lessons To Develop Grit On The Path To Mastery – Joshua Medcalf
The War of Art: Break Through the Blocks and Win Your Inner Creative Battles – Steven Pressfield
Mindset: The New Psychology of Success – Carol S. Dweck
The Talent Code: Greatness Isn’t Born. It’s Grown – Daniel Coyle
Do the Work: Overcome Resistance and Get Out of Your Own Way – Steven Pressfield
Make Your Bed: Little Things That Can Change Your Life…And Maybe the World – Admiral William H. McRaven