If your child is old enough, he or she may be able to actually name their feeling of jealousy: “I feel jealous of … because…” In most cases however, children will “act out” (literally!) their jealousy towards other children (for example: younger siblings or cousins) without being able to verbalize how they feel.
Typical statements we can hear from a “jealous” child are:
- You don’t love me.
- You don’t care about me.
- You only love….
- Everyone cares about… but not me.
- I don’t care.
- Whatever! Nobody cares about what I want anyways.
Typical behaviors we can observe in a “jealous” child are:
- increased competitiveness with younger children in the family/at school
- attempts to impress/constantly seeking approval
- withdrawal (spends more time alone)
- increased aggressiveness
- lack of collaboration
- lack of focus
No matter the age, the feeling of jealousy is normal in children. They need generous amounts of attention- on a daily basis- in order to feel secure, connected and trusting that we have their best interest at heart.
If jealousy becomes a challenge in your family, you can:
- Spend 1:1 uninterrupted, undivided time with your child every day, so you can reinforce the connection; 10-15 minutes per day is a great start;
- Play games that make your child feel special and loved (for example: I love you more! game);
- Accept that the feeling is real and valid;
- Have empathy for your child (also, don’t lecture or shame the child for feeling jealous);
- Check in with yourself before reacting on auto-pilot;
- Pay attention to your own triggers around jealousy and ask for professional help if the triggers are too strong.
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