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Jealousy in Children

by Eliza Martinez

Almost every child will experience jealousy at some point. Some kids might be jealous of siblings or friends and others could become jealous of time you spend with your friends or partner. No matter the cause of your child's jealous feelings, it's important to work through them so she learns how to handle the little green monster in an appropriate, healthy way.

Causes

Kids experience jealousy for many reasons and uncovering the root of the emotion will help you sort through those feelings with your child. A new baby who gets much of your attention can cause siblings to feel jealous. Other kids' possessions or talents are another common trigger, and kids of divorced parents are sometimes jealous about the time spent with a new boyfriend or girlfriend. Some kids might experience jealousy over a friend's fun vacation, award or grade they wanted.

Negative Behaviors

If you suspect your child might be feeling jealous, there are several signs to watch out for: He express anger if a friend or sibling gets to attend an event that he doesn't. He might tell lies or destroy things as a way to seek revenge. A child might also bully, tease or be mean to other kids if he's jealous of them. Jealousy can also manifest in less aggressive ways: Your child might be sad, depressed or withdrawn, but could also become clingy, rude or demanding.

Positive Behaviors

Jealousy doesn't always have to be a bad thing, provided your child uses the emotion for good. Feelings of jealousy toward a friend or sibling over a good grade or award can motivate your child to do his best next time as well as spark ambition to take the steps necessary to do so. Jealousy can also teach your child compassion -- if she feels jealous when others won't share, she's more able to understand how important it is to share her possessions. Your child is likely to need you to help her channel her jealousy into a positive reaction.

What Parents Can Do

You've probably been jealous a time or two, so you know how it feels, which makes you better able to guide your child in handling his jealousy. Acknowledge your child's jealousy by letting him know it's OK to feel the way he does, as long as he doesn't lash out and engage in inappropriate or undesired behaviors. Play up the abilities your child has and remind him of the many possessions he owns. This can help him see that he has different strengths that other kids might envy as well.

About the Author

Eliza Martinez has written for print and online publications. She covers a variety of topics, including parenting, nutrition, mental health, gardening, food and crafts. Martinez holds a master's degree in psychology.

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