The effects of rejection in childhood can be serious, here are some ways parents can communicate acceptance to their children.
Before we get started, let’s be real…
Life brings trouble and there will be times when we don’t react how we should. It happens to us all…it’s unavoidable.
The goal of parenting is not that we are perfect, however, but that our hearts are for our children.
What is Rejection?
Our children will know it if our heart is there for them. If we seek to understand and love them, they will feel loved and understood.
Major rejection will not occur accidentally or by accident, but by repeated purposeful or neglectful events.
In fact, if you’re here, this concept is probably completely foreign to you, but take note. It may be the exact thing you need to file away for memory and bring up with a friend or family member later.
When someone says the word rejection, you probably think of a high school movie like Mean Girls. Rejection by our peers is very hurtful, no doubt, but did you know that those who suffer rejection in their home are far more likely to suffer rejection in other arenas of life as well?
Rejection in the home does not simply mean that one parent declares they do not love their child.
If only it were that simple (and horrible)… there would be far fewer people suffering the ills of rejection. No, rejection can take on many subtle forms and when it is left unattended, can wreak havoc on a person’s psyche.
Examples of rejection in childhood within a family include:
- Preferring one child to another,
- Not being fair when extending privileges,
- Allowing some siblings to have certain freedoms others do not (excluding age appropriate activities),
- Spending too much time on your phone or online,
- One parent leaving and not following through on commitments,
- Lack of quality time together,
- Making fun of a child,
- Interrupting or not letting your child speak,
- Not showing interest in what makes your child tick,
- Biting sarcasm,
- Withholding compliments and praise, or
- Never coming to your children’s events.
There are many more than these, but those are a few examples to give you an idea.
Perception is reality
This is a reality for both our children and ourselves.
I think the saying goes, “If we define a situation as real, it becomes real in its consequences.” If your children perceive you are rejecting them they will believe it and suffer.
This doesn’t mean we should be paranoid, but it does mean we shouldn’t ignore their cries for attention or telltale signs of perceived rejection.
If they say things like “You like sister better” or “You never want to play with me” then we need to take those things seriously.
A child’s truth…
A child will feel rejected if a parent has a favorite child, are present but absent, or work too much. For Example: Children don’t understand that daddy has to work to pay the bills. They just need daddy…
This may mean that dad will have to make special time and attention (although he is tired), to make sure his children feel loved. Being busy is no excuse to not spend time with our children.
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Rejection in childhood has lasting results
Rejection is an awful thing and then, even worse, it keeps giving. If a child perceives himself rejected by his family then he will inevitably have self-worth issues.
If a child thinks he/she has had rejection in childhood… they will act in a way that causes others to treat them similarly. They won’t stand up for themselves and others will perceive this and treat them accordingly.
We will all experience rejection in life, and hopefully we’ll go through it in a way to make us stronger in character!
However, we don’t want our children to develop an identity of rejection that will make life harder for them. We don’t want our children’s personalities to develop around their fear of rejection!
Keep short accounts to prevent rejection in childhood
Children need their accounts to be kept short. Let me explain…
Don’t let incidents, situations or emotions pile up. Don’t go to sleep pretending all will be well in the morning.
When my husband and I were first married and in the midst of conflict, my husband would suggest we just go to bed. He thought sleeping on it would make it blow over. Unfortunately for him, I’d wake up in the morning even more ticked off.
With kids, even if moods are happier in the morning, that is not an indicator that things are resolved, it’s an indicator that things have been swept under the rug.
Pull out these fun connecting questions to share some laughs with your precious ones!
Use them at:
- meal times
- car rides
- as a “calm down” trick
- for dinner time conversation
- or any time the day is getting chaotic or
- you need a reset to connect.
Learn how your family handles things…
If you get angry with your kids and lose your temper… quickly sit down with them and talk it out. If you think they are feeling left out or unloved, don’t be flippant in how you deal with these issues.
Explain yourself thoroughly. You are only human and you will mess up and your children will still survive. There is a balance between being too sensitive and making sure our children know that we love them.
Watch sibling relationships
I read a tweet by Beth Moore ages ago that says “we should treat meanness as strictly as we would lying or stealing.” When it comes to kids, there is nothing more ugly than someone being mean and hateful just because.
A bully at home is arguably worse than a bully at school because if a sibling is the bully, the other siblings can’t escape him.
If we have a bully in our house then we need to protect our other children by dealing with it.
Rejection by siblings or constant feelings of inadequacy stemming from one siblings’ rejection of another will have dangerous effects that last a lifetime.
Now that I’ve scared us all into having nightmares that we’ve accidentally rejected our children – which is not what we have to worry about – let’s talk about how to avoid this.
Our children want to be loved by us and we want to love them. All we really have to do… is mean it and show it.
We don’t have to be perfect. Let me put it this way…we don’t have to be happy and cheerful, always have an even temper, or sit and read for hours to our kids. We just need to be around, emotionally available and free with our feelings and praise.
Trying to work through some mindsets that hold you back? These cards will help you get focus on the right things.Learn More
To make a child feel accepted…
- Purposefully talk to them
- Listen to them
- Hear their hearts
- Take them seriously
- Make time for them
- Be genuine
- Be available
No one is perfect and we don’t need to pretend to be perfect for our children. The essence of acceptance is that children feel they are loved based on their position as your child, not on their performance.
If we can manage that, we are doing well!