My 9 year old is an outstanding student at her class. Usually she aces all the exams and never had any problem with her assignments or tests. Last year she was accepted to a prestigious math programme, at a college. She liked it very much. This year, the same college called her to try out for their science program but she was rejected as she did not pass. She is an extremely sensitive girl, and although popular, loved by friends and teachers – she has insecurity issues and tends to over critique herself. Should I tell her she has been rejected? The thought does not even cross her mind. I can hide this from her, and make an excuse that we cannot send her to this programme. Or – should I tell her the truth and cope with this. Although I know it will hurt her deeply.

Hi, I understand your concern for your daughter and it is natural for any parent to protect their child in such matters which are emotionally sensitive enough. But after going through your question, the first thing that comes to my mind and I’d like to tell you is that do not think of hiding this fact from her. Convey this fact to your daughter that she has not been accepted at the science program this year.

I’ll tell you the reason why I’m saying this. As you said, your daughter is very intelligent, popular among friends and teachers and aces in all sorts of examinations which is a good thing. But along with that you even mentioned that she tends to over critique herself and faces insecurity issues which is not a good thing at all. She is right now in her growing age. Hence, it is very much essential for her to prepare for the tougher times ahead in life.

Today you might protect her from getting hurt by hiding the truth from her, but in future there will be many more instances where failure could be more intense. So today if you do not help her become strong then tomorrow it will be more difficult for her to digest the fact that she can even lose. The roots of insecurity and over-criticism will only get deeper with time and later it will be more difficult to cut them away.

Excessive self-criticism can be really unhealthy for any human being and so for your daughter too. It is a negative emotion rather. At this stage of life, this event can help her understand the fact that life is not always easy for anyone. There will be ups and downs and we all need to be prepared to face them bravely.

That is the reason I would suggest you that how much ever painful or difficult it could be for her to accept the truth, let her know it. What is needed from your side is, to convey it to her in a manner that she can learn to gain control over herself and not get depressed, and the support that you as a parent need to provide her to cope with it. Following points need to be taken care of:

  • Your overall attitude towards her should be positive

I am sure I need not mention it but you need to stay positive towards her. She should not at any point feel that there is a pressure from your side on her to succeed and excel at every point of time. For this you must show your love for her and let her know that you are always with her in every stage of life.

  • Divert her focus towards the Positive

When you convey the truth to your daughter, explain her that she needs to take it sportingly rather than getting depressed. Let her know that there will be many more instances coming ahead in life where she will get a chance and that this was not her last one.

  • Her self-criticism needs to be controlled

Being self-critic is not a bad thing but that should be directed in the correct direction. You as a parent can do that by explaining your child to analyse her positives and negatives and work on them accordingly. Sit with her and talk to her about it. Help her explore her qualities and enhance them. This process will help her control her over criticism. Whereas her insecurities are concerned, keep planting the idea of a healthy competition in her mind; that everyone has their own qualities and weak points and competition should be taken sportingly. Help her learn from everyone and anyone around and appreciate others’ strong points.


These points which I have just mentioned above are not just a “one time” thing which need to be told to your daughter. Remember! This is a process and you as a parent can give this process the right direction with your love and compassion for your child. Your support can really make a lot of difference in this entire process of her development. It is you whom she needs the most at this point of time.

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