What to do:
Self-talk. Say to yourself, "I don't like it when my child is jealous, but I can handle it. All of my child's feelings are okay-and need to be listened to and understood. I can help her change her self-talk to being happy for someone else, instead of jealous of her."
Empathy. Tell yourself, "I understand how my child can feel jealousy because I have been jealous of my friend's new car and my cousin's new house. I don't like feeling jealous, but it is a normal feeling we all have sometimes."
Teach. Tell yourself, "I can help my child learn how to appreciate life, turn her jealous feelings into being happy for someone else, and be grateful for what she has-all important lessons she will use her whole life."
Manage Threats. If your child is so jealous of someone, whether a classmate, a friend or a sibling, and wants to harm them in some way, it's time to take action to manage that threat. Talk with her healthcare provider and school counselor immediately.
Show Empathy When the New Baby Arrives. Say, "I know that caring for your new baby sister (or brother) takes time that you would like to spend with me, but let's take care of her (him) together. You are such a good helper. Now, please get a diaper for me."
Talk About Social Media Jealousy. Constant comparison between herself and her friends at school and in the neighborhood, as well as in social media-natural for identity-seeking teenagers-is now affecting all children at a very young age. Talk with your child about her feelings when she compares her life to the lives of her friends. Doing so helps her know that she can turn to you for support when she's feeling jealous or wishes that her life was like someone else. Being happy for someone else takes practice-model it and talk about how good it feels to do so. Be there for your child!
Teach Gratitude. Help your child learn to be grateful for what she has by reminding her of them from time to time. If she's jealous of a friend's new coat, ask her to think about what her friend is missing, such as the song you sing every night together. A bedtime prayer can be a listing of things for which she is grateful: A Mom who loves her, a grandma and grandpa she gets to visit, etc. Ask her to name what she is grateful for. Developing a sense of gratitude will shift her focus from what she doesn't have to what she does.
Provide Alternative Activities. Understand that your child gets jealous because she feels left out when you and your partner want some time together. Give your child something constructive to do until you're ready to give her your undivided attention. Say, for example, "We want to talk for a while. You can play with your toys or read a book until the timer rings. Then we will go outside and play."
Turn Jealousy into Helpfulness. Teaching young children to be helpful toward siblings and others when they are feeling left out and jealous helps them turn jealousy into something positive. Say, "I know you want to play with me now, but first I have to help your sister with her homework. You can be a big help by bringing us two pencils."
Praise Sharing. Point out her willingness to share by saying, "That was so nice of you to let your friend have the bigger piece of cake. Thanks for being so generous."
Teach Taking Turns. Say, "I'm sorry you're so upset because I can't play right now. Let's make a deal. I'll play with your sister for a while, and when the phone timer rings, I'll read your book to you. Next time, we'll switch and you can go first."
What not to do:
Don't Compare Your Child to Siblings or Others. Saying "I wish you could be as helpful as your little brother," or "Why can't you be as sweet as your big sister?" only tells your child that she's not living up to who you want her to be. To children, that translates into not being as lovable as other family members, which is a sure-fire way to create jealousy.
Don't Punish. When your child is jealous of her sister getting attention, punishing her for being upset will only increase her sense of feeling bad about feeling bad! All feelings deserve support, empathy and a caring response from you and teach your child how to behave that way toward others.