9 Effective Ways To Deal With Jealousy In Children

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Jealousy is a negative emotion ignited when a person experiences inappropriate attention from the people around them. In the children’s case, they may feel it when parents’ or caregivers’ attention is diverted to another child. Most children are attached to their mothers, so if the mother’s attention is not entirely directed towards them, it is common for them to feel jealous of anyone getting that attention.

Jealousy is common in children, and it is one of the most unpleasant feelings a child could experience. A jealous child could fear that they are losing love and attention from their parents or caregivers. This may result in anxiety and anger towards siblings or friends who are getting attention. Children may often quarrel and have conflicts due to jealousy.

Read this post to know more about the causes of jealousy in children and handle it adequately.

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
  • Anger
  • Anxiety
  • Hypervigilance
  • Possessive behavior
  • Oversensitivity
  • May behave annoyed, impatient, expressionless, or even step out of the situation when others receive good compliments
  • Misunderstand other’s intentions
  • Bully others
  • 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 is a common childhood emotion, especially in children with siblings. Single children can also be jealous of their friends or cousins. You may divert your child’s attention towards positive feelings. You may also seek expert help if things have grown out of your hand. Ignoring and neglecting jealousy could negatively impact mental wellbeing in the future.


MomJunction's articles are written after analyzing the research works of expert authors and institutions. Our references consist of resources established by authorities in their respective fields. You can learn more about the authenticity of the information we present in our editorial policy.

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Sagari Gongala

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