Like adults, children can also experience feelings of jealousy, which can adversely affect their social skills and relationships.
By Arun Sharma
Jealousy is an emotion present in all human beings and signs of this feeling are evident even from early childhood.
Sonia Masciuch and Kim Kienapple published a study titled, The Emergence of Jealousy in Children 4 Months to 7 Years of Age’, in the Journal of Social and Personal Relationships (1993). In this study, they stated that, “Jealousy emerged most intensely in the majority of children between approximately 1.1 and 2.3 years, and at 3.5 years children distinguished between social situations which elicit jealousy.”
Feelings of jealousy can make children feel threatened and vulnerable, and cause them to display a range of bad behaviours. Let us look at some of the common triggers of jealousy in a child, the way feelings of jealousy manifest, the negative impacts, and what you can do to help your child deal with feelings of jealousy.
Jealousy can affect the emotional health of a child in multiple ways. It can give rise to:
Jealousy is a word that young children feel, but find hard to understand and describe. Parents can help them understand with examples and patient explanations. It’s also important to let them know that it is a normal emotion and it does not make the child a bad person. Jealousy is harmless until it prompts a child to do hurtful and destructive things to another person.
Jealousy is usually turned towards one or a few people, not most people. When constantly exhibited, it could indicate low self-esteem and poor self-worth, which make the child perceive things negatively. Parents can look beyond the jealousy and talk to the child about other feelings of anger, sadness, guilt and fear. The child could be struggling with some of these emotions deep inside. The approach must be gentle, reassuring and caring. If there are no underlying issues, pay less attention to it, and build on the child’s strengths and other positive qualities and abilities.
- Arundhati Swamy, Counsellor and the Head of Parent Engagement Programs at ParentCircle
Unlike adults, children are not capable of dealing with feelings of jealousy. If you suspect that your child is showing symptoms of jealousy, here’s how you can help her overcome them:
It is impossible to prevent humans from feeling jealous. However, by following the above techniques, you can help your child deal with this feeling. But, while you are helping your child cope with jealousy, you should also desist from modelling such negative behaviour.
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