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How to Teach Children Not to Be Jealous of One Another

by Barbie Carpenter

Your daughter's best friend got a shiny new bicycle, much better than the one sitting in your garage. You just remarried, and your blended family is struggling to mesh. Your son worries that you're giving too much attention to his baby sister. Jealousy appears in many forms in children and seems like an inevitable part of growing up. However, you can help minimize jealousy in your children by instilling self-confidence, improving their outlook and counseling them when those inevitable feelings of jealousy appear.

Avoid comparisons. While you want to motivate your child to succeed, you don't want to place undue pressure on him by comparing his achievements -- or lack thereof -- to siblings and friends. Instead, establish goals for your child that are not based on his siblings' or friends' successes or failures.

Encourage conflict resolution. When your child puts you in the middle of a battle with her siblings or friends, she might end up displeased with your resolution and feel like you're taking sides, resulting in jealousy. When minor spats between friends or siblings occur, push your kids to come to fair resolutions on their own, eliminating the third-party mediator that can instigate jealousy.

Give equal love and attention. If you appear to favor one child over another -- even unintentionally -- your child might develop feelings of jealousy. Every day, set aside a moment for some one-on-one time with each child. While younger children might naturally demand more of your time, chatting with an older child on the way to school or reading to him before bed can help minimize any potential feelings of jealousy or sibling favoritism.

Talk to your jealous child about her feelings. Feelings of anger, sadness or rejection can accompany jealousy. Encourage your child to channel these negative feelings into more positive ones, instead looking on the bright side of the situation and not dwelling on the negative. Have an optimistic outlook in your life as well to encourage the same mentality in your jealous child.

Encourage children to work together. Rather than asking your kids to clean their rooms and rewarding one child for doing the best job, give them both praise for following your instructions. Avoiding unnecessary competitions between kids can eliminate potential jealousy.

Encourage self-expression. If you force your daughter to play soccer because her friends do, she might become jealous that her friends enjoy the sport more or perform better on the field. Sign your kid up for activities that she loves, and she will excel and focus on her enjoyment, not on comparing her achievements to those of friends or siblings.

About the Author

Barbie Carpenter worked as a technical writer and editor in the defense industry for six years. She also served as a newspaper feature page editor and nationally syndicated columnist for the Hearst Corp. Carpenter holds a Bachelor of Science in journalism from the University of Florida and a graduate certificate in professional writing from the University of Central Florida.

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