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How to Deal With Jealousy in Kids

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Your child's jonesing for the scarlet-sweater Uggs her BFF wears and says she'll die without them—oh, and also without an iPhone. How should you respond? The answer depends “on the object of her envy,” says Phyllis Katz, Ph.D., a developmental psychologist in Miami Beach, FL. If your kid's coveting a particular item, maybe you could work out ways she could save up for it. But longing for another person's physical traits is trickier. No matter what's made her go green, here's how to help her deal:

Listen up. Let her speak freely about her feelings and simply empathize, rather than leaping in with advice. You could say, “I understand how much you love your friend's red curls.” Tell her about a time when you also felt envious of someone's looks or accomplishments, so she knows she's not the only person who's ever felt this way.

Show her you value personalities over possessions. Compliment your (or her) friend's sense of humor instead of her shoes. By doing so, you may gently steer her away from materialism.

Help turn her envy into ambition. If the object of her desire is a friend's grades or tennis swing, encourage her to work toward her own personal goal. Studying more could move her grade up on the next test, which may boost confidence and ease her away from the envy she feels.

Read all about it. Jealousy can cause resentment and can damage a friendship for good. Give your child another perspective to consider by reading a story about its effects. Try The Hundred Dresses, a classic tale about envy, bullying, courage, and forgiveness.

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