Childhood jealousy is common. It can manifest itself in relation to each family member or to strangers: to brothers and sisters, to one of the parents, to new passions of mom and dad, to family friends. In this article, we will talk about the causes of childhood jealousy and how you can help a child experiencing such difficult feelings.
Why Jealousy Occurs
Jealousy is an emotional-behavioral mechanism that is formed at an early age. In fact, this is a negatively colored sensory state that occurs in a child when interacting with loved ones (parents, siblings, grandmothers, friends) and when observing how people important to the baby interact.
Such a reaction occurs when children do not receive the expected love, attention, warmth, sympathy, tactile and emotional closeness. It also occurs when a child is afraid of losing the already existing comfortable conditions for interacting with a person who means a lot to him (in childhood, most often it is mom and dad). Lost emotions and attention are directed (according to the sensations of a jealous child) not to him, but to another subject of the relationship: brother or sister, stepfather or stepmother, another person.
It is believed that jealousy first manifests itself precisely in childhood, when the child actively begins to learn social attitudes (how to interact with people and contact them, how to respond to strangers). The anxiety that occurs during childhood jealousy is, first of all, the fear of a small person to lose a very important emotional connection for him.
There are several characteristic signs of childish jealousy. They can vary depending on the age of the child and other factors and are usually clearly visible in behavior:
- The child is actively trying to stop the interaction of the one he is jealous of with other people (interrupts in conversations, leads by the hand, sits between two people, etc.);
- The child behaves capriciously, cries and misbehaves when he sees a loved one with an object of jealousy nearby;
- The child can show aggression, anger, anger and direct them either directly to the object of jealousy (newborn brother or sister, new parent), or to strangers (friends, relatives, etc.);
- The child often throws tantrums in the presence of certain people interacting with the one he is jealous of;
- The child is often offended and speaks of insufficient love: “You don’t love me”, “You love dad more than me”;
- The child is closed, uncommunicative, often nervous.
The peculiarity of children’s jealousy is that kids are jealous unconsciously, because they do not fully understand the nature of this feeling.
Jealousy for mom or dad
Children’s jealousy is most often directed at the mother, the closest person. However, as they grow older, emotional and sensory manifestations can become sexually oriented: girls often become jealous of their father, and boys — of their mother.
How to be:
- Practice joint leisure activities more often, in which all family members will be active (for example, outdoor games, walks, watching movies);
- Do not ignore the child’s complaints, help him express his feelings, ask leading questions: “What do you feel? Are you offended or sad? Why?»;
- Organize leisure activities for the child with the object of jealousy to help them get closer, this can also include the formation of joint rituals (reading a fairy tale before bedtime, afternoon walks, morning exercises);
- Do not shame or scold the child for his actions, but do not indulge them, so as not to reinforce manipulative behavior;
- Practice joint hugs so that the child does not feel like a “third wheel” and deprived: “Come to us, we will hug!”;
- Let the child feel that he is understood, accepted and loved: “I know you don’t want dad and mom to hug. But we are both your parents and love each other and you very much!
Jealousy of stepmother or stepfather
If the parents broke up or divorced, then the child often begins to worry and worry when the parent has a new passion. A stepfather or stepmother can cause intense jealousy in the baby due to competition for the attention of the parent.
How to be:
- Create the most friendly and trusting environment during the meeting;
- Unobtrusively and gradually include new conditions in the life of the child;
- More time together and doing things that are interesting to the child;
- Talking to your child about the importance of support in a relationship and that a new relationship with mom or dad is not bad and does not mean that the child will no longer be loved;
- Help the child in solving problems and questions, if possible, get involved in his daily life (take a ride to the circle, bring treats, help prove the theorem);
- Follow the rules of environmentally friendly interaction (for example, do not set the child against mom / dad, do not tell him what to do, do not scold or pressure);
- Do not demand from the child an instant close rapprochement with the stepmother or stepfather, do not scold for the misunderstandings that have arisen and do not force them to call a stranger “mother” or “dad”.
Jealousy for brothers or sisters
This type of childish jealousy is one of the most common, because the appearance of a brother or sister in the family is an event that is both joyful and disturbing. The child needs time to accept the changes that have come in his life.
How to be:
- Prepare the child for the arrival of a new family member in advance (draw drawings with the “future sister”, read books about replenishment in the family, tell what life will be like after the birth of the baby and what the child will be able to enjoy);
- Avoid one-time major changes in the child’s life (for example, the birth of another child, moving and placing the eldest in school at the same time);
- Involve the baby in the care of the newborn, but exclusively voluntarily. It is important to give feasible, easy tasks — bring napkins, put on a hat, shake a rattle, etc.;
- Do not forget about the needs and desires of the older child — spend time with him, including individually, to provide him with a sufficient amount of personal attention (help with homework, watch cartoons, draw, go to the zoo or cinema together);
- Duplicate actions (bought toys for the younger one — buy for the older one too, patted the younger one on the head — pat the older one too);
- Avoid comparing children with each other, maintain a fair attitude towards both, during quarrels, be a mediator and not take sides;
- Do not impose on the child love for the younger and do not force him to be a nanny (“You are the eldest!”, “Now you must …”);
- As they grow older, organize joint leisure activities for children.
We recently wrote about what to do if the child is against the birth of a brother or sister in a separate article.
If you feel that you cannot cope on your own, be sure to contact a psychologist.