How to Deal With Jealousy Among Children

Just like adults, children can experience and act out feelings of jealousy that can often be painful for them and other family members. Often parents’ first reaction is to scold or shame the child, but this often makes the situation worse. Helping a child deal effectively with jealousy at a young age can help him deal with similar feelings he may experience in adulthood.
Types
Children experience jealousy for a number of reasons, involving everything from a new baby to their mother’s new boyfriend to good old sibling rivalry. Some children have a more jealous nature than others and will be prone to comparing what she receives–material things, attention from parents, good grades–to what her sibling receives. In the case of a new baby, the child that was once the baby of the family now feels replaced, ignored or unloved, and feels jealous toward the new baby, who is receiving all the attention. Some children can become very attached to their parents and feel threatened when a new friend or romantic partner enters their mother’s or father’s life.
Dealing With Jealousy
Children shouldn’t be punished for having feelings of jealousy; jealousy is a natural human emotion that all individuals experience. Rather, they should be taught to deal effectively with the emotion and to handle situations that cause them to feel jealous. There are also things that parents can do to alleviate jealousy between siblings or between a child and a new member of the household, including treating each child as an individual rather than as equals, avoiding comparisons between children and spending special time alone with the jealous child without other siblings or household members.
Learning From Jealousy
Children will continue to experience jealousy throughout their lives if they do not learn to properly cope with the feelings and if they suffer from feelings of inadequacy or low self-worth–feelings that are often developed in childhood and carried into adulthood. Jealousy in children can be viewed as a positive opportunity to teach children about coping with these feelings. These childhood lessons, if properly taught, can help the child lead a happier and more stable life as an adult in a world where competition is rampant.

Children often bicker and argue with one another. These feelings intensify when jealousy is involved, but it’s important for children to learn conflict resolution skills. Here are some ways to effectively deal with jealousy among children.
1. Allow the children to honestly express their feelings about one another. Don’t downplay a child’s feelings, or try talking them out of feeling the way they say they feel. Children feel their parents understand them best when their feelings are acknowledged.
2. Avoid making comparisons because it is not an effective way of dealing with jealously among children. Comparisons stir jealous feelings and can make one child angry, possibly wanting to get even with the child receiving the praise.
3. Create a system for equal distribution to reduce the occurrence of squabbles. Make sure everyone receives the same amount of juice each morning, takes turns equally choosing what to have for lunch, and deciding what to watch on television.
4. Treat children as individuals instead of trying to make them seem equally the same. Point out the things that make each child unique so they feel special and loved for who they are.
5. Set boundaries and insist your children respect one another. For example, explain to your kids that they should always ask before borrowing one another’s things or ask to be invited before entering each other’s bedrooms.

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