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
- Possessive behavior
- 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 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.
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