How to Handle Rejection: What to Say When Your Teen Doesn’t Make the Team

Upset teen girl sitting on a field with a softball helmet and bat beside her
It's tryout season, so there's bound to be disappointments. Know what to say and do to help get your teen over this hurdle.

How to Handle Rejection: What to Say When Your Teen Doesn’t Make the Team

Published July 31, 2019 | Last Updated June 2nd, 2023 at 10:23 am

It's tryout season, so there's bound to be disappointments. Know what to say and do to help get your teen over this hurdle.
Upset teen girl sitting on a field with a softball helmet and bat beside her

If your teen is trying out for sports and feels like the world might end if they aren’t selected for a team, you’re not alone. In their view, making or not making the cut is a major part of their adolescent lives. 

So what should you do if your student isn’t picked?

Should you join them in a collective sense of outrage and immediately call the coaches to complain about the injustice of this decision? Should you berate your child for their poor performance during tryouts?

Steps to Take

Before you react, consider my suggestions for how to help them handle rejection. Your job is to make your teen feel whole again, not to further intensify bad feelings. If your teen doesn’t make the team:

  1. Suggest that this is not where things end for them sports-wise. In fact, maybe they are not ready for this level of competition yet and can spend this year working on their skills.
  2. Talk to them about other opportunities. Perhaps they would like to try a new activity?
  3. Make sure that you don’t make this about yourself.This is solely about your child. No vicarious living through your child here.
  4. Use this as an opportunity for your child to learn how to deal with disappointment. Dealing with disappointment is a major resiliency skill and helps all of us recover from disappointing daily experiences.
  5. Encourage your child to “remember who they are.” This is one of my very favorite expressions. Remind them that they are about more than just the sport that they are playing.

I wish you all grace and dignity in handling it well for your own well-being and especially for your teenagers sense of self and self-esteem.

_________

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