Jealousy doesn't always bring out the best in kids. They can wallow in self-pity and want our sympathy. They might mope around, making their lives as well as ours quite miserable, or diss the person they long to be most like with complaints, gossip, or put-downs. So what do you do when your kid turns into a green-eyed little critter? Here are a few points:
• Target the issue. Don't rush too quickly to sympathize.Your first goal is to find out what is really bothering her and triggering the issue:"You seem really jealous of Sally. Do you wonder why she was invited to Rosemary's party and you weren't?"
• Clarify feelings. Sometimes all that is needed is for someone to acknowledge the jealous child's feelings. Try it: "You're hurt because you think Jake is being treated more fairly than you are." "You're frustrated because you're not getting a turn at Nintendo."
• See it from the other side. Kids often get so caught up in jealousy or feeling they're being treated unfairly that they don't stop to think how the other person might be feeling. So ask,"See it from the other side now. How does your friend feel?"This also builds empathy.
• Challenge the jealous view. If your child says,"The coach likes Sam better. He always gets to play," question his view: "I know you're disappointed you don't get to play as much as Sam. But why do you think the coach lets Sam play more? Could it be Sam's a good player? Is that something you want? What can you do to improve your skills?" The trick is to get your kid to understand there may be something else to the issue; maybe the other child practices more or is a better sport, for example.
• Point out past successes. When your child's jealousy is directed toward another kid's success, point out past successes: "You're right, Bill did win the art award.You won the award last year."
• Offer ways to cope. "I know you're really disappointed right now that you weren't chosen for the team and Kara was. Unfortunately, there are going to be a lot of times we don't get things to go the way we want. Let's think of things you can do when you're feeling down to make yourself feel better."
• Congratulate the winner. "I know you're envious ofJennifer for placing. Even though you wish you could trade places, you can't. But you can congratulate her. People usually remember you more for how you handled defeat than how you won. How will you congratulate her success?"
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