Many parents think jealousy is normal in children, such as when a child shows sibling rivalry with a brother or sister or seems withdrawn and angry when a new baby comes home from the hospital. Although experiencing jealousy is normal, it is a very difficult feeling for a child to understand; even more difficult is how a child learns to cope with these feelings. Helping your children understand what jealousy is, how it can negatively affect them and how they can cope with it will help them become better adjusted children.
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Teach children about what jealousy is and how they can recognise it in their lives. Children, Youth and Women's Health Service describes jealousy as similar to envy, but with an added element of suspicion. Parents can help their children understand the feeling of jealousy by asking them how they felt when a new brother or sister was born, or if they ever felt like one of their parents loved a sibling more than them. That feeling they felt was jealousy.
Teach children about the negative effects of jealousy. Feeling jealous can trigger anger, hatred, rejection and revenge. Explain to your child why these feelings are negative, as they can lead to wanting to harm another person, or even themselves. According to Woman Knows, children experiencing jealousy can show negative behaviours like coughing, choking, bed wetting, skin reactions, biting and scratching. If children are exhibiting any of these reactions, parents can explain to them that they are hurting themselves, because they are jealous. Obviously, other causes can trigger these same behaviours, so observe your child until you are certain what the underlying causes are.
Teach children how to cope with their jealousy. PBS Kids recommends helping children focus on what they do have and the great things about who they are when they become jealous, as opposed to focusing on what they do not have or who they want to be. Reward children when they seek positive attention or show the right response to a new situation that would normally trigger jealousy. Help them to understand that they can seek attention in non-destructive ways.
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