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Q&A: How Can I Help My Teen Deal with Disappointment?

Q. My 17-year-old was on the cheer squad for two years but didn't make next fall's team. She's devastated and wants to switch schools. How can I make her understand that this is life?

A. You're right that disappointments happen, but try not to come across as dismissing her feelings. Cheering is part of her identity and losing her spot is hugely humiliating. So first acknowledge, sincerely, how difficult the situation is. Then remind her that she has the strength to make sure this loss doesn't define her.

You also need to tell her that she can't blame the girl who took her place, because being mean goes against everything you've taught her about showing good character in difficult situations.

Originally published in the May 2010 issue of Family Circle magazine.