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Dealing with Setbacks

When Elice Smith's 10-year-old son, Andrew, was cut from his Vancouver hockey team, he took it harder than she thought he would. "For weeks, he'd ask, 'Why aren't I bigger? Why can't I skate as fast as the other kids?'" she says.

Rejection at any age is difficult, but it's especially tough on tweens. Their self-image can be bruised easily, and they're just starting to develop strategies for dealing with disappointment, says Ian Tofler, Ph.D., author of Keeping Your Kids Out Front Without Kicking Them From Behind. To help your child rebound from a setback:

Don't get in on the act. You may have wanted him to make the team as badly as he did, but showing your sadness will make him feel like he let you down.

Find out what's really bothering him. He may be worried he won't get to see friends who were chosen. If so, help him figure out other ways to hang out with his buddies.

Share your setbacksĀ --and how you overcame them. Hearing that you've faced similar disappointments and bounced back will convince him that he'll get over his, too. Tell him about celebrities who didn't do well in their field as kidsĀ --like Michael Jordan, who got cut from his high school basketball team.

If he's still set on achieving his goal, and there's another chance to try out, go with him to talk to the coach or director and get feedback on what your child can do to improve. Then help him make a reasonable plan for practicing more or getting extra help. In the future, instead of just applauding a good grade or a winning score, praise his dedication and focus during a project to show him the end result isn't the only thing that matters.