By Debra K. Waranch, LCSW-C
As parents, when we hear that our child is trying out for the sports team, a theater production, or student government, we are thrilled. We support and encourage our child. But…often, deep down inside of us, we worry, and fear sets in. What if he isn’t chosen? What if she doesn’t make it? My child will be crushed, devastated.
We panic, fearing that a rejection will harm our child for life. But actually, the opposite can happen — if you let it. Feeling rejected is a natural consequence of putting ourselves out there. We grow with each learning experience, both positive and negative. Many parents tell me that they fear their child’s self-esteem will plummet if she is rejected. My philosophy is the exact opposite. Through experiences of trying out, but losing, and continuing to try again, our self-esteem rises. Believing in oneself enough to keep going and try again builds character, self-worth, and perseverance.
What happens if, in attempting to protect our children from failure, we discourage them from trying out for that part or that place on the team? They will be stilted, and miss growth experiences of learning and social engagement.
We need to be our children’s cheering squad. As parents we provide a nurturing family system to support them when they’ve been hurt, but we send them back out there to try again. Remember, as we do this with one child, another child is watching and learning. They learn that they are loved. They also learn that they may not get what they want the first time, or even the second time, but with determination they’ll keep trying.
Here are some tips on how to make this happen and help your child learn life skills:
- Encourage your child to try out for a variety of interests.
- Be positive and supportive.
- Let your child fall, and help her get back up.
- Share your own stories of failure and success.
- Teach him that life is full of challenges.
- Build a supportive family system.
- Believe in your child.
Rejection is supposed to hurt, but not devastate. The lesson is to keep trying, and success is that much sweeter when it happens.
By Debra K. Waranch, LCSW-C, Jewish Community Services Therapy Services
Questions about parenting? Send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. To learn more about how JCS can help you solve life’s puzzles, visit www.jcsbaltimore.org or call 410-466-9200. Jewish Community Services is an agency of THE ASSOCIATED: Jewish Community Federation of Baltimore.