How to Deal With Jealousy in Children

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By Brianna Siciliano

Jealous feelings are very common for people of every age, including children. When your daughter has to have the same boots as her friends, or your son needs those expensive sneakers to prove that he’s just as cool as the other boys, you may notice that those necessities just pop up out of no where. More likely than not, this is because your child is jealous of the attention that the girl with the new boots, or the boy with the expensive sneakers, is receiving. The same can be said for siblings: no matter how hard parents try to make their children feel equally loved, kids often accuse parents of having favorites.

Comparing one child to another is a major cause of jealous feelings. Saying something along the lines of, “why can’t you be more like ________?” or “______ would never do this,” is very hurtful to a child’s self-esteem. Saying these words usually translates to “______ is better than you” or “We love and admire _________ more than you” in a child’s mind. To prevent these feelings of hurt and jealousy, refrain from comparing your children to each other. Do not compare their behaviors or skills, and do not praise one child over the other. Children come with different interests, needs, skills, and tempers, therefore treating children equally is not realistic. What is realistic, though, is quitting the cycle of comparison.

To help a child overcome jealous feelings, show your child how to value personality uniqueness over possessions. Instead of complimenting the latest pair of boots that your daughter’s friend has, or praising the new pair of sneakers your son thinks he “needs” to have to be “cool,” compliment a personality trait that your daughter or son’s friend has. Talk about the friend’s great sense of humor, or about how kind and sociable the friend is. Doing this may help your child realize that material items are not nearly as important as personality traits. While your at this, turn your child’s envy into goals and ambition. If your child wants to be as smart as another child, or wishes to be as talented in a certain sport as a friend, encourage your child to work hard and achieve goals. If your son wishes to get better grades, encourage him to improve study habits. If your daughter wishes to excel in soccer, spend more time practicing skills for the next practice or game. When the results are in and your child realizes how much improvement he/she completed on his/her own, he/she will have a major confidence boost and jealous feelings and thoughts will no longer be bothersome.