“You said if I worked hard, obeyed the rules, did what was expected of me or what you asked – I would succeed.”
“Well, I did all those things – and I didn’t make the team, I didn’t get the part, I didn’t pass the test, I didn’t get into that college, etc. etc.”
Situations and questions like these are crucial for parents!! They’re a challenge - a true maturational opportunity. Your credibility is on the line – time for you to be more in-depth, honest, supportive and parental than perhaps ever before.
This presents as a foundational BUILDING BLOCK for your teen’s life and future. Your reply will lead to how s/he responds and reacts to LIFE’S setbacks, long after you’re out of the picture. It’s a chance to be more honest and adult-like than perhaps ever before. It’s also a chance to greatly strengthen your future credibility. “Mom, Dad no longer treat me like a child – they talk to me like an adult!”
The MAJOR, MAJOR POINT? It's time to explain
(1) HOW to effectively and positively deal with failure, THEN (2) how to get back up and keep going in a new or different or better direction.
Defeat will be painful for your teen, but the big lessons usually are. Defeat is a GREAT TEACHER – as every high achiever knows.
Please don’t be syrupy idealistic here – be empathetic, reflective, adult-like and constructive.
And when you offer these thoughts and insights, they will be MINIMALLY COMFORTABLE at that moment.
Failure or defeat has many similarities to the process we go through at the death of a loved one:
denial, rejection, bargaining, acceptance.
But a defeat as a teen should be seen as a learning opportunity, not the end of their future or their dream – it’s a valuable STEPPING STONE! And ‘reversing’ their reaction, could be and should be - portrayed as a beautiful lesson! [Boy, is that hard – but true.]
PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE – don’t say “everything will be OK” – because it most likely WON’T. But the champions, the winners, ‘the best’ – will learn, internalize and USE this as a chance to reach and become ‘the next level’ they are striving for.
There are several lessons here, to discuss in depth with your teen – and DON’T FORGET TO LISTEN and empathize:
[Ask] “What did you LEARN from this defeat?”
Here are some possibilities:
• There are [often] other people better than you.
• The most talented doesn’t always ‘win.’
• Most (!!!!) great successes come AFTER multiple defeats – YES, MOST!! [we may not see them, but they happened]
• Maybe you were weak at time management, focus, motivation, discipline or something similar.
• What do you think?
• What do you think you should next or now?