My first experience being rejected as a young girl (that I can remember) was in gym class when team captains were picking basketball teams. You know the experience – you’re in gym or at practice and the chosen team captain for that day is asked to pick their team and you wait for them to call your name. My name never got called… until I was the only person left on the sideline and then, well, one of the captains had to pick me.
Let’s just say I stopped growing in grade 6 and was the shortest girl in class for years to come. I loved basketball but I think other girls thought I was short, so I couldn’t possibly be a good basket ball player. I was good at basketball, for a while anyway, ducking my way around the court and keeping the ball close, until the tall girls took over.
My height was the bane of my existence for the remainder of my youth. The whole ‘good things come in small packages’ never flew with me. The rejection experiences would later come in the form of rejection letters from universities, jobs or relationships, which are all part of growing up.
On the upside, I could always wear heels and when I eventually became a TV anchor and reporter, my height sensitivity started to wane and I eventually embraced my height. Being on air always made you look taller. And when I was out in the field reporting, I never seemed threatening to the people I was talking to, so they always felt comfortable opening up to me and giving me great interviews. During big media stories, I was small, petite and could easily get my mic into scrums by ducking through the media crowd. It was great!
Years later I’d become a mom and have my first conversation about rejection with my daughter. She was four years old. The girls in her class would never ‘pick her’ to play with at recess. So for weeks on end she would come home to me and say, “I don’t like school because no one plays with me.” So I tried to give her advice on how to put herself out there because she was shy and didn’t really ‘make the first move’ when it came to friends. Over time, the teachers helped too by pairing her up with a recess buddy for the first few months and things slowly settled. But it took a good two years before she got the confidence to feel comfortable getting out there and making friends.
Teaching kids how to handle rejection is not just a one-time conversation. The experience changes over time and as they grow. Those playground conversations turn into gym class conversations, which turn into locker room conversations and eventually the workplace.
It’s never easy to watch your child go through rejection. But we need to help them navigate that feeling and give them the tools to handle it from the start. Whether it’s experienced at the playground, or the feeling after a bad exam or rejection letter from university, the ways she copes with rejection will depend on how she values herself and her abilities.
Here are a few great tips to empower your daughter and get her thinking about just that:
- Don’t minimize her feelings.
Give her free reign on expressing her feelings to you. Show her you understand and are there to help her and support her. This can be particularly important during tween years when puberty begins or when she’s dealing with boys. Here’s a great video from beinggirl.com she may want to watch during that time.
This will also be important when she’s applying to universities and may need to understand why she didn’t get her program or school of choice. Beinggirl.com has a great resource for this chapter of her life, here.
- Help her embrace who she sees in the mirror.
Help her learn to love her body. “It’s what makes you amazingly you.” It is easy to unravel insecurities if you are picking out the little things about your body you don’t like. Explain to her that it’s all those small things that make up who she is and she should be proud of them! Teach her to work on positive affirmations, develop healthy eating habits and take care of her body.
Help her embrace her culture and where her family comes from. This can be really important in situations where she may experience bullying or racial discrimination. It’s important to have conversations about her family history, where her grandparents came from and cultural traditions you had growing up – teaching her about celebrating her South Asian culture and all that it has to offer is a way for her to give meaning to who she is.
- Help her be resilient
Help her to understand that it’s ok to fail sometimes. Walk her through the feelings that come with failure or rejection, validate those feelings and encourage her to see why she should try again or take other options. Let her take the lead on picking herself up when it’s appropriate or possible. Taking a back seat sometimes encourages growth and arms her with tools to navigate the way back from rejection.
What coping strategies did you use growing up that could help your own daughter today? We’d love to hear your thoughts below!
This post was sponsored by pgeveryday.ca however all opinions expressed in this story are my own.
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