By Guest Blogger Andrea Gibbs
No one gets through life without experiencing one of the most difficult emotions to handle: rejection. It’s difficult watching our kids go through hard times and feeling like there’s little we can do to help them. But when it comes to rejection, it’s crucial that parents step in.
To be rejected by someone is one of the most uncomfortable feelings on earth.
Rejection can have long-lasting effects on young, developing minds. It can strongly affect a child’s self-esteem and can be linked to serious mental health issues.
Being rejected by a parent is especially difficult for a child. Parental rejection can happen in a variety of ways. Some parents simply don’t have time for their children; some are physically absent; some are distracted; and in the worst case, some are abusive.
Kids, as we all know, can be cruel, and when a child is excluded from a group of peers, it is very painful. This can be particularly difficult for children who are already experiencing mental health issues. Peer rejection can also cause stress and anxiety in children, leading to more serious problems as they age.
Children who experience peer rejection may have difficulty forming relationships with others later in life. These children tend to continue to feel rejected into adulthood.
Life event rejection occurs when a child experiences a major life-changing event, such as losing a loved one or a home. For example, if a child loses their pet, must move to another state or loses a grandparent or parent, they are likely to experience depression and anxiety.
They may also become more introverted and avoidant because they are afraid to get close to others to prevent another loss.
How Rejection Manifests
You may notice some of the following behaviors in your child when they experience rejection:
- Shame and guilt
They may feel shame and be unable to admit their mistakes because they are afraid of being rejected or rejected by others. They may even feel guilty for all the negative things that have happened to them, which can lead to suicidal thoughts.
- Somatic complaints
Children with low self-esteem may complain about stomachaches, headaches or other physical symptoms. They may think they are getting sick – or actually become ill – when they feel nervous or stressed.
- Lack of confidence
Children who lack confidence struggle to believe in themselves and their ability to succeed. They tend to fear failure, so they give up on things before they even try, which leads them to fail in the end anyway. They are unsure of what they can do and may feel it’s not worth the effort.
A child who experiences rejection often focuses more on what others think of them than their own needs and wants. This can lead to self-harm, drug addiction, eating disorders and other dangerous behaviors.
Reduced self-care can also lead to high levels of anxiety. A child may feel overwhelmed with the responsibility of taking care of themselves, which leads to feeling too stressed to think rationally.
They may feel they are not worthy of having friends or being around other children. They may even begin to feel angry and upset because they do not have enough people who accept them as they are. This causes anger issues such as temper outbursts or aggression at others and toward themselves.
How to Help a Child Cope with Rejection
If your child is experiencing rejection, you can help them cope in the following ways:
- Encourage your child to be their authentic self
It is essential to encourage your child to be their own person. This will help them feel more confident in who they are, which will help them avoid feeling bad when they face negativity and criticism from others.
Make sure your child knows what you want from them and their role in your relationship. Give them responsibilities and tasks to complete that involve others in their life, such as attending a family function or volunteering at holiday time. This well also help build their self-esteem.
- Model Behavior
Your child will model their behavior after yours. If you are being kind and compassionate toward others, then they will learn to treat others the same way. If you are inconsiderate and rude to others, they will be selfish and disrespectful to others.
- Set Limits
Children need boundaries. Set limits on how they spend their time (especially when it comes to technology usage) and who they spend it with. This will help them follow your rules, as well as respect your opinions and wishes.
- Consider getting professional help
If your child is struggling with rejection, or you are having trouble helping them accept themselves, it may be time to seek out professional services from a therapist. Reach out to North Shore Child & Family Guidance Center at 516-626-1971.
Andrea Gibbs is the head of content management at SpringHive Web Design Company. This digital agency provides creative web design, social media marketing, email marketing and search engine optimization services to small businesses and entrepreneurs. She is also a blog contributor at Baby Steps Preschool, writing story time themes, parenting tips and seasonal activities to entertain children.