How to Talk/Teach about Rejection

How to Talk/Teach about Rejection:

Rejection can be a painful experience for many people. Watching your child or student experience rejection can be difficult as a caregiver. Rejection is a normal part of life.

There are many ways that we experience rejection throughout life:

Not getting a job we want.

Not getting into a school or a program we applied for.

Having your friends or peers stop wanting to spend time with us.

Not fitting in at school.

Having romantic feelings for someone who doesn’t have those feelings in return.

Going through a break up.

Teaching young people how normal and common it is to face rejection can help make it a less adverse experience.

Strategies for teaching or talking about rejection:

1. Teach the steps of consent. Ask, Listen and Respect. Emphasize the third step of respecting someone’s answer. For example, if you ask someone if you can kiss them and they say no, it is important to respond respectfully.

2. Use social stories to normalize rejectionGive examples from everyday life that portray rejection and how to handle it in a healthy way.

3. Teach and talk about the realities of rejection and how they are inaccurately portrayed in the media.

4. If you are comfortable, share an experience in your own life that involves rejection. Share what you learned from that experience and how it helped you grow as a person.

5. If you are a teacher or therapist and looking for curriculum, check out our Power Of Me curriculum. The Power of Me is a series of lessons designed to provide adolescents with the tools they need to be healthy and connected as they navigate life.

Ways to support someone who is experiencing rejection:


Validate the feelings and lived experience of the person facing rejection. Normalize and acknowledge the rejection and the array of feelings that go along with experiencing rejection.


Help the young person take the perspective of the person doing the rejection. Is that person doing it to be hurtful or are there other reasons someone may reject you? Maybe they aren’t interested in a romantic relationship. Maybe the employer had a number of applications.


Teach young people how to reflect on their experiences. Is there something they can learn from experiencing this rejection? Is there something they can do differently next time? Is there a way to turn this into a positive learning experience?


If you find that the young person in your life is struggling to process rejection, consider getting outside help from a counselor or therapist. Sometimes having an outside person’s perspective and expertise is needed.

When rejection gets dangerous:

Being rejected can create a lot of stress and anxiety for a person. It may even bring up feelings of anger, rage, jealousy or other feelings that can lead to thoughts or actions of violence or revenge. If someone you care about is struggling with rejection helping them find a therapist, counselor or support group can be really helpful.

Additional Resources:

Videos: has a series of short videos that deal with different issues related to handling rejection. These are a great place to start the conversation with your young person about rejection.

Here are a couple of videos Mad Hatter Wellness created in collaboration with Quillo on the topics of consent and rejection:


How to Handle Criticism and Rejection by Joy Berry

Don’t Take it Personally: The Art of Dealing with Rejection by Elayne Savage

Please share any resources with us that you have in the comments!

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