How to deal with jealousy in children

Jealousy is a very strong emotion which can even destroy the grown-up person. It can be a very disturbing emotion to the very young child because she does not just understand what has hit her. Jealousy is one of the facts of life, and the parents can help her to overcome it by converting her feelings of jealousy into other feelings which are constructive. A child will show jealousy in several ways and various kinds of psychological disturbances in childhood will be due to the experience of having another child at home, where the older child has reigned supreme for several years. From the child’s point of view, if such a thing can happen without warning, then anything may happen, her home might disappear or she may find her parents gone one day. She feels it is better for her to be a baby and remain one, than to grow up, in such a disorderly world. And the child regresses into earlier ways of childhood.

Regression means literally stepping backward. She starts wetting herself and she become so fretful that she will not let her mother out of sight even for a moment. Plainly, she is resenting the presence of a rival in the house, and her unconscious reasoning tells her that being a baby means to get constant attention, so she will be a baby too. She imitates the baby in every way, to the extent of refusing solid food and demanding milk from a bottle, talking indistinctly or using baby language, indulges in tantrums and even refuses to go to sleep unless someone stays with her and in various other ways causes her parents a great deal of anxiety.

What is the solution to this problem? This can be best carried out, not by scolding or punishment, coaxing or bribes, but by compensating for what the child feels the baby has taken away from her, as well as by giving her a new identification which will restore her to her real age, and help her to grow up progressively. As a compensation the mother should devote some time fully to her during the day, when she can play with her or read to her, tell her stories or get her involved in some hobby which they can share together. She can point out that this is suitable only for the older children, and so make her feel important as the big girl at home. Sometimes it is useful to give such a child something to do in connection with the baby so that she helps her mother look after it.

Make her assist you in feeding, bathing and clothing it. Comforting it when it is miserable and protecting it from dangers. In this way the child will not feel left out, she will feel that she is wanted and she will act like a third parent towards the child. Also, try to tactfully play down the new baby in her presence, don’t get too excited over it. Don’t gloat over it. As far as is convenient take care of the baby when the older one is not around. Besides, let the older child feel proud of her maturity, and remind her that there are a lot of disadvantages of being a baby. Little things mean so much to a small child being put to bed rather later than the baby, going to somewhat more grown-up treats, having different toys that mark a superiority of a few years. All these are cherished tokens of status, which will make her forget her jealousy, and adopt a loving attitude towards the younger one.

Jealousy between older children

There is bound to be some jealousy between the older brothers and sisters if the parents are lacking in affection for one or the other child. If all children, whether they are handsome or plain, handicapped or normal, dull or smart, receive the same type of affection, there will be no jealousy between them but a very warm affection.

To prevent jealousy between children, parents should treat all of them equally, and they should refrain from making comparisons and showing favors and showering praises. It is also wise to refrain from taking sides when two children have quarreled with one another. When the parent tries to decide who is right and who is wrong, then it encourages them to quarrel again in order to win the parent’s favor and to see the other one being scolded. If a mother must break up a quarrel then she must tell the children in a firm voice to put a stop to it, refuse to listen to their arguments and try to distract their attention and occupy their minds with something new.

Child-parent jealousy

Usually, it is the son who is jealous of his father on account of his mother, and the daughter jealous of the mother on account of the father. But sometimes, it can just be the opposite when the boy wants to be loved by his father as much as he loves his mother, while the girl is jealous of her father because she wants her mother all to herself. Both the children feel irritated when they see their parents enjoying each other’s company. In order to keep their parents separate such children would want to sleep with their parents in the night and if they are told that they cannot share their parents’ bedroom, a violent storm of tears or rage will take place. This jealousy wakes up the child at night at all odd hours and she keeps on demanding water or asks to be taken to the toilet, four years olds will not allow the parent to leave her side because she says she fears the dark. The parents can put a stop to this Jealousy by explaining to her gently that parents belong to each other, and a child cannot have a parent exclusively to herself. The parent of whom a child is jealous should be more affectionate towards her and try to win her over by taking her out, giving her little gifts and playing with her. These steps are worth taking in the bringing up of children, as jealousy causes serious discord and acute misery to the child who suffers from it.

Little children have very vivid imaginations, they imagine a lot of things that do not happen in real life. If a child occasionally tells a harmless tale about something that did not take place or if she blamed a broken toy on a boy next door she is not really lying but rather using her imagination-year-olds have only a vague idea of what truth is, now and then they need correction but they should not be admonished because this will lead to further distortion, of facts. By the age of five a child is quite aware of the difference between truth and lies. She finds that she cannot get away with making up stories when she is in the company of friends and therefore she realizes gradually from observations at home and elsewhere that she will command more respect, and find life generally better if she speaks the truth.

Sometimes children tell lies unintentionally because they do not know the facts or they are eager to hold your undivided attention. This type of behaviour does not warrant any punishment. You can just tell her, “What you say is just make-believe, my child.” Then she will realize that you are not the one who can be easily deceived. As school going children measure themselves against the accomplishments and strength of their classmates and friends, they sometimes brag in a way that spills over into lying. A boy who is poor at sports might come home and declare that he outclassed everybody on the school ground or a girl may say that she beat everybody in class in Geometry and English. Often a child tells these types of lies then you need to bolster up his ego. Try to build up his self-confidence by minimizing his weaknesses and pointing out to him his qualities in which he is adequate or really excels. You can make it clear to him that everyone does not excel at everything but everyone has a special talent for something. For example, some may be good at sports, some at studies, some at writing, some at dancing and so on and so forth. Sometimes the parents get so angry when a child has told them the truth of having broken the neighbour’s window, that in future out of fear of his parents, he stops speaking the truth in order to escape their temper. A wise parent should therefore praise the child for telling the truth about having broken the window even if the fact may not please the parents. If you know that your daughter has spilt your brand new nail­polish, don’t confront her with, “Did you do that?” She may be too terrified to say anything but “No”. You can simply tell her that you know that she has spilt your nail polish and that you know she is sorry, and that you hope you can trust her not to do it again. This will make her want to behave better the next time than all your admonishing. When a grown-up child tells a deliberate lie try to find out the cause before handing out the punishment to her. The child might have spoken a lie because of fear of reprisal or because she had found herself in a situation, which she could not cope with. If you get to the root of the trouble and understand the cause of her lying and then make her see gently, why lies is bad and truth is better, she will try not to lie in future because she knows her parents understand and trust her and are always by her. But if you will just punish her without knowing the cause of her lying, then you are likely to encourage the child to become more skillful in her lying,s o that she won’t get caught next time.

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