Emotion regulation or knowing how to deal with one’s emotions in a calm or socially skillful manner, is a hot topic these days. So many kids (and even adults) struggle with it.
So what do you do if a child is jealous? Reprimand then and tell them that it is a bad character trait that they have to expunge from their hearts and souls? Make fun of them that they have a bad middah or character trait? ABSOLUTELY NOT!!! In fact, that should be the last thing we should ever do. This only causes more shame and pain, and makes it harder for kids to deal with their jealousy.
Question: So what can you do if a child is jealous?
- Let your child/student know that ALL FEELINGS ARE OK. Share with your child or student when YOU have felt different feelings, especially the negative ones such as jealous, angry, mad, etc. This helps kids feel normal for having different feelings. The feeling is NOT the problem; our reaction to it might be.
- Don’t try to make things even between children just because one child is jealous. Thus, if a child complains that another kid got more grape juice or ice cream than her, instead of trying to make the grape juice cups or ice cream scoops even, ask the child if she likes grape juice/ice cream and therefore wants more. The focus should be on what the child WANTS, and not on what the OTHER child has. Let the child know that when she finishes her grape juice or ice cream and she still wants more because she likes it, you’ll be happy to give her more (assuming you don’t mind giving more.)
- If you can’t or don’t want to give more of an item and a child is jealous, very gently and RESPECTFULLY, validate the child for feeling jealous and thinking it’s not fair that she can’t have something that another child has.