Jealousy in kids is normal, but it can sometimes be difficult to determine why these feelings appear and how to best approach them.
The uninvited green-eyed monster tends to emerge out of the blue, often in situations when kids have to share; during playdates, after the birth of a new sibling or even when parents are showing affection to one another.
Signs of jealousy include:
- Out-of-character bedtime issues such as bedwetting, nightmares and refusing to go to sleep
- Temper tantrums
- Moodiness or pouting
While jealousy-related behaviour issues are a common part of childhood development, there are things you can do to help your child calm down and accept certain situations with more ease.
New Baby Envy
It can be difficult for kids to adjust to sharing their parents for the first time. Many kids who are excited about the upcoming arrival of their new brother or sister soon change their tune when they realize the new baby isn’t just a visitor, but a permanent family fixture!
Help your child adjust to changes in your household by:
Telling stories – Stories about siblings and babies are an excellent way to help kids express their emotions and learn about the upcoming family changes.
Including the oldest – Friends and family will be excited to meet the new baby and will naturally want to fuss over her, but this can cause the oldest to feel left out. Include the older sibling as much as possible by expressing how grateful you are for having such a great little helper and encouraging guests to bring something small for all kids if they wish to bring a gift.
Being patient – Kids often respond to a new baby by acting like one themselves. Your child may suddenly want to drink from a bottle or take a pacifier, or he may even refuse to use the toilet and want diapers if he is recently potty trained. This phase will pass as he gets used to his new role. Be patient and tell him how much he’s loved and share as much one-on-one time as you can to show him his importance in the family has not changed.
Toddlers tend to be possessive over what they consider “their things”.
It’s common to hear kids shout “mine!” at least once while playing together. They may believe all dolls and games around them are theirs or that a toy they were playing with in the morning should be theirs for the entire day.
When it comes to people, it’s not unusual for toddlers to fuss when they see their mom and dad hugging or kissing or cry when they see their parents giving another child attention.
Help make certain situations easier on your toddler by:
Being a role-model – Share your things with your toddler using language he will understand. “I’m playing with this red ball, and when I’m done I’ll share it with you.”
Giving compliments – When your toddler does share, acknowledge his actions with a compliment. “That was very nice of you to share your car.”
Teaching the right words – Some kids don’t have the words to express their jealousy so they lash out with temper tantrums. Calmly sitting your child down and asking such questions like “do you feel angry or sad?” will help match words to his feelings.
Being Tolerant – Don’t lose your temper in response to your toddler’s jealousy. Remaining calm will help him feel more secure to express his feelings with words rather than act out.
With the right tools and some patience, jealousy is just another phase kids will soon outgrow.