Jealousy is a feeling all of us have to deal with at some point, and children are no exception. It can be anything from school grades, types of trainers, sporting achievement or good old fashioned sibling rivalry. Jealousy sparks big feelings in us – so how to support your child with defeating the green-eyed monster?
Jealousy is a powerful Feeling
Jealousy is a normal part of life; others have more money, a bigger house, a nicer car, the perfect relationship, effortlessly lost more weight than you did – the list goes on. The fact is with jealousy, we are choosing to negatively compare ourselves with others – that is what jealousy basically boils down to. It makes us feel bad about our own situation, negatively impacts our self-esteem, can leave us feeling frustrated, resentful and even angry. Worse case scenario is triggers anti-social behaviour in us as we lash out at others, and this can impact on our friendships and relationships with others.
Reactions to jealousy
The green-eyed monster appears when we feel insecure about something. Our trainers are not as nice or as expensive, people are doing better in life than we are – they earn more, are happier, go on more holidays etc. Quite simply, we want all these things for ourselves and choose to compare our situation with that of others – often totally unrealistically. The first reaction is to harbour feelings that these comparisons always leave us at the bottom of the pile. We feel bad about ourselves and then the negative thoughts start – and so does the downward spiral of our self-esteem.
Conversely, you have the type of people who are jealous and insecure, but who choose to pull other people down in order to big themselves up. This is highly damaging as these kind of people are always seeking others to be detrimental about in order to feel better about their own insecurities. “Ah! I got way higher in my maths than so and so!” “Ha, they may have a big house but their children are total nightmares and they hardly talk to one another. My marriage is so much better.”
Types of Jealousy
There are 4 main types of jealousy:
Sibling jealousy – one is loved more than the other, has more time and attention given to them, is better at school, has more money spent on them, is the golden child etc.
- Accept and acknowledge that children make these comparisons. “I understand that this is how you feel. I am sorry you feel this way.”
- Explain – not justify – the reasons why something might be happening.
- Maybe be aware of it yourself – ARE you favouring one child over another? Focus on time and experiences of being together.
- Check your language with the children – are you unconsciously comparing them – does one child inadvertently get special treatment ?
- If not that is great – and remember the golden rule here is NEVER compare your children – ever. They are totally different and need different types of praise and reassurance from you.
Material jealousy – everyone else has more of we want – more clothes, more money, more games, Apple computers, the coolest trainers a pool, the designer pet – everyone else has more of what we want but we can´t afford it.
- We all have different amounts of money and different ways to spend it. We can buy the more expensive designer clothes, but that means we need to do without the family holiday, not upgrade the car or stop for ice-cream etc.
- Explain that material things are always going to be there – we have to accept that others have lesser or more amounts of money than we do. It is life and something we have to accept.
- It´s not about keeping up – because there will always be something else. Once you buy the expensive trainers, then the mobile phone isn’t good enough, or they want a motto too, or to have riding lessons. No means no. Children need to get used to accepting things – giving in does not improve their self-esteem or resolve the situation. That´s what tough love is.
Social jealousy – maybe your child is left out, isn’t invited on play-dates, no one wants to sit next to them on the school trip, they are chosen last to be picked for a team. These things hurt and the feelings are REAL.
- Empathise and acknowledge your child´s feelings – accept their point of view. Try not to dismiss is in an effort to make them feel better, as actually that makes them feel that their feelings aren’t validated.
- Talk to them about body language and social behaviour – smile at everyone, say hi to everyone on a morning – it takes time but these little things make a big difference.
- Some people are just socially gregarious – they do make it look easy. Accept that they are different to you – we all have things we are good at.
- Ask other children to play a game
- Join clubs outside of school so they are meeting other children
- Invite children back for a play-date. Small steps make a big difference.
Academic Jealousy – when others are getting marks, achieving awards and making more progress. It´s easy for children to feel “stupid” or that they just simply can´t. They become the “slow” reader or the “bottom” maths set – and people around them, as well as themselves, believe they are just that way and they can´t.
I do not believe that is true.
At all. I’ve worked with too many children who have made outstanding progress to even remotely believe that this is true.
- Hard work, the belief that they can, being inspired to learn and being determined to continually make progress, makes a massive difference.
- Yes, we are all good at different things – this is true. However, we can ALL excel in our own progress.
- Staying positive, putting in the hard work and the effort are key. A body builder doesn’t look that way overnight. Academics are a muscle too – albeit we have different strengths and sizes – however we can all achieve far more wit h the right inspiration and striving to continually progress. See more on my blog about Growth Mindset.
Jealousy is only as big as we allow it to be. It is a beast that can be tamed and controlled – with the right attitude, a dose of kindness and really looking a what we DO have, rather than focusing on what we do not.
What things spark jealousy in your child’s school? Leave a comment and let me know.