Come up with positive ways to reduce the feeling of insecurity in your child.
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Jealousy is a complex, defensive reaction that may arise when one senses a threat to a valued object or relationship. Jealousy in children usually arises when the parent’s love and affection get divided with the arrival of a sibling. Fascinatingly, jealousy in children is usually associated more with the mother since many young children tend to be closer to the mother.
Jealousy is a common emotion in children, though it is one of the most unpleasant emotions they may experience. The emotion arises from the fear of losing the love and attention of their parents and caregivers. It may also cause anger, anxiety, or resentment toward other siblings. In addition, children may have frequent disagreements or fights if they are jealous of a sibling or a friend.
Read this post to learn about the common parenting mistakes that may lead to jealousy in children and how to deal with them.
Parenting Mistakes That Cause Jealousy In Children
Parental behavior could be the trigger for jealousy in childhood. For instance, children are often eager to impress and seek extra attention from their parents. A child could gradually develop jealousy if parents always give more attention to one child than others.
Below are some of the parenting mistakes that may cause jealousy (1):
1. Too much pampering
If you spoil the child with too much pampering, they could feel unconquered at home. When a new child comes into the family or comes across a more powerful friend than them, they feel insecure. Children may feel the newborn or the friend as the reason for this insecurity. They could suffer from depression when they do not get the desired attention and may develop inferior complexes in the future.
2. Over protecting
Overprotecting the child and then releasing him from the clutches one day would mean that you are suddenly leaving them in the wilderness. They might become reserved, timid, and shy, leading to jealousy when he sees a confident kid.
3. Authoritarian parenting
Over controlling is also another mistake parents make, thereby raising jealousy in children. Setting up strict rules and regulations without explaining the cause will affect the child. They grow with lack of self-confidence and feel less worthy than their siblings or pals.
4. Comparing with others
Another dangerous mistake by parents is to compare their children with each other. Comparisons can only lead to jealousy, rivalry, and lack of self-confidence.
5. Creating unhealthy competition
Making children do the same activity and comparing their results would create unhealthy competition among them. One child may be less skilled than the other, but insisting that they do the same activity with similar precision could prove wrong, leading to jealousy.
6. Birth order
Sometimes parents may pay more attention to a child based on their birth order. For instance, the first sibling might be jealous of their newly born sister or brother when they see parents paying them more attention. With the newborn’s arrival, the older children may feel dethroned, which could lead to jealousy.
Signs Of Jealousy In Childhood And Adulthood
In childhood, you may notice the signs of jealousy when your children are playing with each other. It will be so common that the jealous child might hit the other child and act like it is just a game.
Common signs of jealousy in adults and children may include (2):
False complaints about the person they envy
May behave annoyed, impatient, expressionless, or even step out of the situation when others receive good compliments
Misunderstand other’s intentions
May explain that other’s achievements are without struggles
May copy a person they envy but avoid them
In adulthood, jealousy is more obvious as they talk about the other and impede their progress. Jealousy could hamper adult relations, and many of them may not feel happiness in their lives. The fears and anxiety accumulated over the years may increase the risk of certain mental disorders. You may help your child to grow out of jealousy in childhood to avoid these consequences in the future (3).
Measures To Deal With Jealousy In Children
Before dealing with jealousy in your child, be sure that you are not jealous of your siblings, friends, neighbors, or anybody else. Unless you remove it from your system, you cannot deal with it effectively in your child. Here are the ways to handle jealousy in children (4).
1. Turn envy into ambition
Diverting your child’s envy to a positive channel is a great way to reduce their negative feelings. For instance, if your child is sad because their friend received good grades, you may encourage and motivate them to study harder and score better grades. Once your child gets caught up in the attempt to study, they won’t focus on how to outrace someone. They will divert their focus in the right direction.
2. Listen up
In most instances, jealous and envious behavior is rooted from deep within. They have a particular issue or concern behind such behavior. Talk to your child and know the reason why they are jealous of a particular person and then listen to them. There may be cases where your child may have lower self-esteem and confidence. They may not be sure enough about their positive aspects, which may cause them to exhibit jealousy towards someone else.
3. Read out from the classics
The classic stories and fables have many moral messages conveyed underneath, and even if you don’t emphasize them, your child will learn from those during the crucial stages of their development. Make bedtime reading a daily routine. Get your child more books with morals that talk about qualities like being helpful, caring and having good intentions in mind. This will help your child understand that what they’re doing is not right.
4. Explain using examples
Another great trick to emphasize the importance of having positive feelings about everyone is setting yourself as an example. Compliment others for their sense of humor, good behavior or any other quality that they may have. Be liberal in such compliments in front of your child.
5. Teach your child the importance of sharing
Children tend to hold a grudge against other children for no reason. If that’s the case, teach your little one the importance of sharing and caring. This will help them remove any insecurity. Sooner or later, you’ll find your child enjoying the company of a child they once envied.
6. Love your child
We don’t say you don’t love your child. Instead, we emphasize that they need all the love and affection they could get during this stage of their life. No matter what the reason is, parental guidance, coupled with love and care, can always fix things up and make them the right way faster.
7. Withhold from comparisons
Do not compare one child with the other, as it devalues them. It can develop long-lasting strains. These comparisons will make children conclude that “You love them more than me” or “You think they are better.” Never compare one child’s schoolwork, report cards, and test scores with their siblings or friends. They will not help your child to work harder. Instead, they fuel up resentment in them.
8. Foster a unique strength in each child
Every child loves to hear from parents about their strengths. Talking about that particular strength will nurture their self-esteem. It would be best if you fostered a unique strength in each child on their interests and temperament.
9. Reinforce cooperative behavior
It is one of the simplest ways to let away the jealousy in children. Mold them in a way that they support each other. Give them the moments to share, help, and work together and value their efforts. They will repeat these behaviors as they realize that you want them to be so.
So if you find your child jealous over their classmate’s good grades or because their big brother just got a new bike, sit with your child and remind them of the instances when they achieved something in life and were rewarded for it. Your close involvement makes a huge difference for them.
Jealousy in children is a common emotion, especially in children who have siblings. Children could develop feelings of envy due to various reasons and certain parenting mistakes such as constant comparisons and too much pampering. You may try tips such as diverting a child’s attention towards positive things, listening to them, and lending them your love and support. Also, remember that overlooking your child’s behavior could negatively impact their mental well-being and personality. So next time you see your child jealous of their peers or cousins, talk to them and motivate them to get over this negative attribute.
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1. Child Counseling: Jealousy and Envy in Kids| How to Handle Children’s Envy; My Wellness Hub 2. Dealing with jealousy; Oxfordshire County Council 3. How to Help Your Child to Deal With Jealousy; Findmykids 4. 5 Ways to Deal with Jealousy in Children; Cambridge Montessori Preschool
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Sagari was a math graduate and studied counseling psychology in postgraduate college, which she used to understand people better. Her interest in reading about people made her take up articles on kids and their behavior. She was meticulous in her research and gave information that could be of help to parents in times of need. An animal lover, vegan, and... more
Dr. Marwa Yahfouf is a board-certified pediatrician practicing in the US. She did graduation in biology and a diploma in teaching before completing the doctor of medicine. Then she worked as a pediatric research fellow at the Center for Infectious Disease Research, Beirut, and did her pediatric residency at the Kansas University School of Medicine in Wichita.
Helping your child cope with jealousy in healthy ways | by Julie Ross
Jealousy, that “green eyed monster,” has been written about for centuries. It has been called “cruel as the grave” and a “jaundice of the soul.” Perhaps, then, it is no wonder that many parents feel so alarmed when their children exhibit this much-despised feeling. Especially when children seem to feel jealous so easily, and over such “trivial” things: a toy belonging to another child; a parent’s attention; a high test score earned by a friend.
When we see that our child feels jealous, most of us seek to eliminate that feeling. We might say something like, “It’s not nice to be jealous of someone else,” or “You shouldn’t feel jealous,” or “You don’t need to be jealous, you have plenty of things they don’t have, so what if they have _______ and you don’t?”
The problem, however, is that this doesn’t cause the child to stop feeling jealous. Instead, it often aggravates their feelings: adding resentment and a feeling of being misunderstood to the mix.
So what’s the solution? First, it’s important to recognize that jealousy as a feeling is neither bad nor good. It simply is. All people since the beginning of history have felt jealous. Likewise, a child’s jealousy is no less justified than the jealousies felt by adults. It simply seems less justifiable because, as adults, our perspective is different from that of a child. But putting yourself in your child’s shoes, and perhaps even comparing the things that are important in their world with something similar in yours, may result in a greater understanding about your child’s feelings.
For example, have you ever felt as though, after a long day of work, your spouse or partner seems distracted and emotionally unavailable? Perhaps it’s not so different for your child when you’ve been up all night with their baby brother and have less patience for them. Or did you ever go to a friend’s home and wish longingly that you could afford one that was as big / fancy / had a pool too? Is it that different, then, when your child wishes they could have a toy that belongs to another child? Or what about when someone whom you believe to be less deserving gets promoted ahead of you at work? Perhaps your child feels the same about the test they worked hard to study for, only to have their friend get a better grade.
Sometimes, translating the things that are important to children into the similar circumstances we might experience as adults helps us to be more empathetic and less judgmental of our child’s feelings. And it is our empathy and lack of criticism that are the keys to helping children gain perspective about their own feelings.
Many parents worry, however, that acknowledging the feeling of jealousy — saying it out loud to their child — not to mention empathizing with it, will in some way condone it. As if to say “It sounds like you’re jealous” means “It’s good (or right) to feel that way.” Still other parents carry this one step further and become concerned that acknowledging this intense feeling will give their child permission to behave inappropriately because they feels jealous.
It’s important to recognize, however, that feelings and behavior are two very different things. Feelings are an internal state, while behavior is external. All feelings should be acceptable. All behavior should not.
When we name a child’s feelings, we free them from the necessity of trying to make their feelings known to us through their behavior. In other words, naming feelings and acknowledging them as normal (if sometimes unpleasant) helps the child let go of them and move on. Saying “It sounds like you’re jealous…”, or one of the variations on the feeling: “Seems like you feel cheated / envious / resentful…” can help your child talk through their feelings which in turn will reduce their need to behave in a jealous manner to order to communicate.
There is a line, of course, that your child may cross. It’s the line that separates feeling jealous from acting in a way that’s hurtful to others because you’re jealous. If your child crosses that line, and behaves inappropriately because they feel jealous, then it’s important to set boundaries.
Some examples of children crossing the line might be:
If your child pinches their baby brother because they feel jealous.
If your child takes a friend’s toy because they’re envious.
If your child ignores their friend’s texts because their friend scored higher on a test.
Any crossover from feelings to hurtful or harmful behavior means that we must set limits on the behavior so that no one comes to physical or emotional harm.
When setting limits on behavior that arises from the feeling of jealousy, it’s important to separate the two states for the child. In other words, give a consequence for the pinching, not because your child “should love their baby brother/ sister and not feel jealous.” Instead, incorporate an empathetic stance with the limit you’re setting to help your child understand why you’re upset. You might say something like “It seems like you’re feeling jealous of your sibling. It can be hard to have someone else in the house that takes up some of my energy. AND, people are not for pinching. Either tell me you’re feeling jealous instead of pinching, or I’ll have to take your sibling into the other room with me so you can’t hurt them.”
Clearly, the more serious the behavior, the more serious the consequences that should accompany it. So if your child steals out of jealousy, an appropriate consequence might be that they have to pay for the toy from their own money or return the toy accompanied by a public apology.
If the behavior is more passive, then it’s possible to simply explore different solutions with your child. For example, if your child isn’t speaking to a friend because the friend got a higher test score, you might want to help them explore whether their behavior is helping them feel better or worse about the friendship, and ask them if they can think of a different way to handle it that will preserve the friendship.
When children hear that jealousy is normal, they feel less of a need to communicate that feeling with negative behaviors. And while it’s important to set limits on inappropriate behavior, doing so while giving our children insight into their feeling of jealousy will ultimately make them better able to handle this “green-eyed monster” in the future.
10 ways to help a child. How to deal with childhood jealousy? | Child health | Health
Anastasia Kuznetsova, an expert of the Association for the Development of Humanistic Psychology in Education, tells :
- If in the form of expressed aggression towards the new husband of the mother or younger brother, then the situation is psychologically unsafe and the child needs the help of adults .
Childish jealousy is usually associated with a real lack of attention and its subjective experience. Competition for a “place in the sun” with a brother or sister, the struggle for the love and attention of a mother with the advent of a new man in her life can induce jealousy.
1. Recognize the child's feelings. Usually a mother, trying to calm her son or daughter, says something like this: “Well, what are you worrying about in vain”, “You are upset in vain”, etc. It is better not to use these phrases. They devalue the feelings of the child. He hears that his experiences for his mother are nothing and nonsense. And jealousy doesn't get any better. Acceptance of the child’s feelings can be expressed as follows: “I understand you”, “I understand how you feel”, “You are angry that ...”, “You are offended because ...”. This is a signal that you are not indifferent to the state of mind of the baby. Plus, you help the child to understand it.
2. Invite the child to think of something that would help him reduce anxiety and worries : “What could we think of together to improve your mood?” Even if the child is not ready to offer anything due to lack of experience, offer it yourself - set an example of constructive communication. The first two steps are necessary to help the child make sense of his own feelings and emotions, to see that you are still "on his side." Otherwise, it will be difficult to reach mutual understanding, to change the attitude to the situation and behavior.
3. Be clear about your child's personal space. Agree on how much time is shared and how much you dedicate to it. For example, a joint walk, reading a book, etc. Often, working mothers experience a guilt complex. But it's not the quantity, but the quality of the time spent with the child. It may be half an hour, but the child will be sure: mother belongs only to him at this time.
4. Don't hurt yourself! Another misconception is to deny yourself the right to a happy personal life and interesting work for the sake of the child. The attitude “I put my whole life into raising him, denied myself everything” will ultimately ruin the life of both. A mother who has sacrificed herself will subconsciously expect the same sacrifice from her child.
5. Do not impose new rules and forms of existence on the child. Try not to change the system of habitual requirements and way of life if there have been changes in the family. If earlier the mother always put the child to bed herself, it is important to leave the rituals of an intimate emotional connection (a fairy tale, a kiss and a good night wish) unchanged even with the advent of a new family member. This gives the child a foothold, a sense of predictability and security.
Another typical situation: before the child could not sit up until 11 pm, and now a brother was born and you can stay up late and watch cartoons for hours. Mom sees in such a cancellation of the previous “no” some kind of compensation to the child for the fact that he is deprived of attention. In such a situation, children very quickly learn to manipulate their parents, playing on their guilt. Not because they are such sophisticated cunning, but because any child works this way. He begins to take the indulgence of the parental regime for granted. In adolescence, this is fraught with the fact that the child can go into all serious trouble, not seeing boundaries and not having brakes, justifying this by the fact that you preferred him to “other”.
6. Do not force the younger ones to wear all the clothes for the older ones . This can provoke jealousy between brothers and sisters. The child must have something of his own, bought only for him.
7. “Well, what do you think, maybe Uncle Seryozha will stay with us?”, “What do you think, should I get married or not?” - such questions arise when the mother cannot make a decision on her own. The chances are high that the child will almost certainly respond out of jealousy: “No, never!” And then the mother will sacrifice herself with all the consequences that we mentioned above, or still act in her own way, thus demonstrating disregard for the opinion of the child. The child will go on the warpath, and scandals will begin in the family. This is because he is not ready and should not be responsible for making fateful decisions. This is not about the fact that the child should not understand what is happening, and adults put him before the fact. It is better to build a conversation in a different way (taking into account the age of the child). For example, like this: “This person is close to me, dear and important. I want to associate my life with him. I made this decision. Let's discuss how to make sure that we all feel good in this situation. A child is much more comfortable and calmer if adult decisions are made by an adult and are responsible for them.
8. Find “their” place in the house for everyone. If it is not possible for each child to have their own room in the house and they have to share one, the space must be zoned, divided so that everyone has their own corner. This will also prevent or smooth out feelings of jealousy and competition.
9. It is impossible to impose on a child the role of an older brother or sister with the appearance of a baby. For example, a child is 3 years old, but a younger brother is born, and the first one automatically becomes “big” (“Well, you are an older brother! You must now ...”). The child is not yet ready to be perceived as an adult and to be given exorbitant responsibility. It is worth respecting his right to develop in accordance with age. Let him be small.
10. Do not ask your child to call the new husband dad. Why should a man who is close to the mother immediately become a close person to the child? This position must be won. Automatically (especially with a living father) this does not happen. Telling a child that he now has a new dad, he is involuntarily put in a situation between two fires. He feels like a traitor to his own father, calling his new husband dad, or a traitor to his mother, not accepting her man as a family member.
“Only my mother!” How to help kids deal with jealousy0001
Aleksandra Kabalevskaya, family psychotherapist, candidate of psychological sciences. Founder of the project on the life of psychology and psychotherapy doc-talk.ru
You will have a brother!
Almost every parent thinks about the problem of childish jealousy: this is not an obligatory phenomenon at all, but it happens often. As a rule, the appearance of childish jealousy is strongly influenced by how the parents themselves react to the feelings experienced by the older child after the appearance of the younger one, how they cope with them.
The classic preparation of an older child during pregnancy for the appearance of a younger one, for example, stories about having someone to play with and generally having a sister or brother is great, does not guarantee that the child will not be jealous. This is understandable! No matter how parents invent a story for a child about a brother or sister who now “live in their mother’s belly, and then we will love them together”, as long as the baby does not pose a real threat to the elder, there is simply no reason for jealousy. So all the methods from the “we will prepare in advance and love our new baby” series work effectively exactly until the baby is born.
How to deal with jealousy when it has already appeared?
Advice 1. Accept any child's feelings towards a brother or sister
This is exactly what parents most often do not do. On the contrary, they sometimes try to prove to themselves, to the child himself and to the world around him, that the older one nevertheless immediately fell in love with the younger one: “Look, we take care of the baby together, and our older one really likes it.” But feeding and bathing together does not mean at all that the older one automatically fell in love with the younger one. This may mean that children conform to their parents in order to gain their approval.
If a child notices that a brother or sister should not be treated negatively , he understands that he should not express his feelings directly. Parents do not accept them, they scold, condemn and shame them: it means that they do not normalize what is happening to him. And then the elder begins to adapt to the expectations of the parents in order to please them, because this is one of the basic needs of any child. But along with this, his dislike for the younger will increase.
Jealousy arises and intensifies precisely at the moment when parents do not allow to treat a brother or sister differently. When mom and dad are offended that one child may not love another, say that he is bad and not needed, they don’t like him, it’s boring to communicate with him, he spoils everything.
What can be done instead of punishing and having educational conversations? You can enter an intrafamily rule. For example, a brother or sister can be treated as you like: you can not love, not be friends, not play. But you can’t offend - beat, push, call names and so on. This rule normalizes the feelings of the child. After all, a parent cannot forbid feeling, they can only try to forbid showing their feelings.
Tip 2. Normalize feelings, but limit behavior
Normalizing feelings does not mean permissiveness at all! Let's take a common example: the younger child broke the older child's toy, and the older one got upset and hit the culprit in response. In such a situation, the most common reaction of parents is to tell the elder: “It’s impossible, he’s small!” It is unlikely that this will help get rid of children's jealousy and resentment.
What can be done instead? First of all, focus on the feelings of an older child, understand that, in fact, a sister or brother who has just broken their favorite toy cannot be liked. Therefore, you need to recognize the feelings of a big child and speak them to him yourself. For example: “You are upset now, you are offended that you lost your toy. Your brother did wrong. But you can't beat someone else. If you are offended and someone upset you, you can come up and tell him about it. You have every right to be angry with your brother, after all, he did something that offended you."
This is an acknowledgment of the feelings of the child and their normality, but at the same time a restriction on the consequences of an act. It sounds paradoxical at first glance, but in order to reduce children's jealousy, these feelings in the family need to be noticed and recognized.
Advice 3. Don't give in to provocations
With the arrival of another child, the level of anxiety in each family increases, and it is not easy for parents to cope with this. Often it seems to them that now the first child automatically becomes the eldest, adult, "big". But this is not so. He becomes a separate, different child.
Therefore, it is critically important never - even in the heat of the moment - not to compare children in a family, not to set one as an example to another. In general, a child can only be compared with himself. Such parental behavior gives confidence that you don’t need to fight for the love of mom or dad, you don’t need to prove and justify your right to it.
When the youngest child grows up, the relationship between children moves to a new level. Conflicts happen, and children come to complain about each other. In this case, instead of taking the position of a referee, the parent should only talk with that child and about the feelings of the child who came for help. “Yes, you are offended, yes, you are unpleasant, yes, you are upset.” When the second one comes, everything is done the same, but in relation to him.
Childish jealousy is a kind of request for love. Therefore, in order to cope with this feeling and give a sense of security, with the advent of another child, parents need to look for opportunities and ways to demonstrate and speak out any situations of tension. Discuss, offer solutions, allow you to feel as you like.