New siblings often trigger feelings of jealousy in older children.

Helping a Child to Not Feel Jealous of Others

by Candice Coleman

Your child has it all: A shiny new bike, a roof over her head, nutritious food to eat and plenty of playmates. But even the most gifted are not free of the big green monster. Feeling jealousy is a normal reaction that can begin at a young age. While you cannot control your toddler's emotion and stomp out feelings of jealousy and envy, it is possible to teach your child how to react to those emotions.

Identifying Jealousy Triggers

Junior has traded in his days of quiet playing for temper tantrums, crying, throwing objects or hitting other people. Jealousy might be triggered by the arrival of a new sibling, or a parent's new romantic relationship, marriage or job. Pay attention to the circumstances surrounding your toddler's outburst: If he gets upset whenever you are holding his baby sister, you have likely found the reason behind his jealousy. Finding the source of your little one's jealousy can prove useful in stopping your child's destructive behavior cold.

Explaining Jealousy to Your Children

You certainly believe that your boss showed favoritism when he gave someone else the promotion, but unlike your toddler, you have learned not to stomp your feet over it -- at least not too much. Teaching toddlers to focus on what they do have can prove an effective tool in battling jealousy. Remind toddlers that although you have a new baby, your toddler is still loved and respected by the family. A baby's arrival does not mean that your toddler has been replaced. The same is true of a new job or a new romantic partner.

Solutions for Jealousy

While everybody cries sometimes, children need to learn that destroying property or hitting others in response to jealousy can have long-term effects. Distract children and offer alternative solutions, such as telling your daughter to hug you when she feels jealous. Encourage your child to embrace the role of big sister, or set aside time after work each night to engage in a fun activity together. If your child feels jealous of a new romantic partner, consider spending time together with everyone so that your child feels included in the group.

Additional Help

Sometimes, reassuring jealous toddlers or spending more time with your toddler does not help for long, or it may not help at all. A pediatrician or a family counselor may be able to provide more perspective on how to handle your child's jealousy. While these feelings are a normal stage in childhood development, a child's jealousy could start to affect his social life.

About the Author

Candice Coleman worked in the public school system as a middle school and high school substitute teacher. In addition to teaching, she is also a tutor for high school and college students.

Photo Credits

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