Three Things To Do When Your Child Doesn’t Make The Team

While getting cut from a team or being rejected from an opportunity is an inevitable rite of passage, it doesn’t make it sting any less. When your child hurts, you hurt (and it’s even worse if you feel like it’s an injustice). That said, your response to your child’s big disappointment can help or hurt the situation, and it can also teach them how to cope with losses in the future. Here are three things to keep in mind when you find yourself in this situation.


Let your child feel their feelings without judgment.

Your child may feel upset, embarrassed, or angry, and all of those emotions are valid. Give them a space to express how they feel without minimizing or brushing things under the rug. Comments like, “It will be OK, it’s just a team!” might be well-intentioned, but they can also make your child feel invalidated and unheard. Imagine losing out on a big opportunity at work, and a friend or partner telling you that it’s “no big deal” – it is a big deal to you, and that’s exactly how your child feels. Support them as they navigate these emotions and let them express them without judgment.


Bite your tongue about how you feel.

It’s important not to compound their feelings of distress. You might be angry at the coach, upset about the lost opportunity, or emotional about a change in plans, but having your own temper tantrum will only make your child feel worse. This can put your child in a position where they not only have their unpleasant emotions, but they also feel responsible (and guilty) for yours. This isn’t to say that you can’t share a few thoughts in an honest, authentic way, but make sure you’re staying calm, focusing on your child’s emotional perspective, and remembering that it’s not about you!


Encourage them to pursue other things.

It’s important that your child remembers that there are other opportunities out there. Hold off on this until they’ve gotten an opportunity to mourn the team they didn’t make, but then help them see the silver linings when they’re ready to start talking next steps. This might free up time for them to join another team in the community, or perhaps they can try out something totally new! It may take a bit of convincing, but this is a chance to remind your child that when one door closes, another one always opens.


The beautiful thing about this type of rejection is that it means your child is putting themselves out there, taking healthy risks, and pursuing goals. The awful thing is, of course, that disappointment like this can and will happen sometimes. As a parent, this is an opportunity to model self-compassion and resiliency – and that can the most important achievement of all.