If we don’t encourage our kids to open up when they’re feeling rejected, it might have negative effects on the way they deal with things later in life.
If you were to ask a little girl or boy, sulking on the soccer field or at home after a horrible day at school, “What’s wrong?”, they’d probably shrug their shoulders and pull away, unable to put into words what they’re feeling.
They’re sitting there, defeated, with a broken heart after not getting chosen as prefect or for the soccer team, or after getting bad grades, or getting rejected by the girl or boy they’d been crushing on the entire year.
But it’s important that we do get our kids to talk about how they’re feeling, especially when those feelings are disappointment and rejection.
What happens when we bury our feelings
We often hear that traumatic childhood experiences come back and haunt you later in life. And children are more prone to developing PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder) than adults, as their brains are still in development. Local studies revealed that as much as 20% of young people and clinic patients in South Africa had been diagnosed with PTSD.
And although a broken heart may not seem like such a big deal to you, the way you teach your child to deal with whatever they may be feeling, well, that’s something they’ll carry with them for the rest of their lives.
As we’ve written before, if our kids tell us they’re sad about something seemingly small and we respond with, “There are kids with bigger problems”, our children may feel less inclined to share their feelings when they’re experiencing real trauma, and they’ll learn to cope with whatever they might be feeling on their own. This could eventually lead to unhealthy coping mechanisms, from cutting themselves to bullying others.
In some cases, they might bury their feelings of rejection altogether and have these manifest later in life when something triggers them again, and in extreme cases it could result in them dealing with it in aggressive ways.
Consider the staggering stats around domestic abuse, or the number of mass shootings all over the world. Peter Ross, a writer for the Observer, traced the circumstances surrounding these. He explained that for the most part, the shootings tend to happen just after the shooter received bad news “they clearly couldn’t process”.
He continues, “It’s also clear that an increasing number of men are not able to manage their feelings, frustration and anger in a healthy manner. So many of these cases show a man at the end of his tether, had one too many setbacks, and finally snapped.”
We can help to avoid and prevent these horrific incidents by teaching our kids how to deal with rejection from a young age. Katherine Prudente, a licensed therapist and counsellor, shared 5 useful tips on how we can help our kids do just that on Child Mind Institute.
“Comfort and validate their experience”
It’s important to acknowledge what our kids are feeling and not dismiss it because we might not remember just how badly our first [...]