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Five tips to help kids deal with jealousy

Every child experiences jealousy. It’s a natural emotion. Helping your children learn to handle jealousy will not only help them feel better, it can also help them get along better with others.

While you may not be able to entirely eliminate it, you can teach your kids to handle the negative emotions and help them foster a positive opinion of themselves and the world around them.

I have a three-year-old son and am expecting baby number two this summer. Dealing with new baby jealousy and learning how to share a parent’s time and affection will definitely be a topic in our household.

1. Acknowledge your child’s feelings: Don’t try to talk your child out of his envy—it probably won’t work. Acknowledge your child’s feelings instead. For example, say, “It’s hard for you to wait when I have to do something for the baby,” or, “You’re disappointed that your friend got picked for the part in the play, and you didn’t.”

2. Perfect-or-nothing thinking: Elementary-age kids are quick to decide that they are ‘good’ or ‘bad’ at certain activities. If your child is interested in sports, ask, ‘Who is the best baseball player in the whole country?’ Ask your child to explain why. Then say, ‘So, all the other players, who aren’t as good, should they quit playing?’ Ask your child to explain why not. You can do the same thing for best actor, musician or other interests.

3. Highlight strengths: Children often compare themselves with their siblings. Say what’s special about your child without making comparisons like, “You’re good at math and your sister is good at reading.” List concrete examples of things you love about your child such as, “I love how you tell stories that make the whole family laugh.”

4. Don’t make everything about the baby: Allow yourself to be in awe of the baby in private. In a family setting, use phrases like, “I’ll be there after I finish the laundry” rather than, “I’ll be there after the baby wakes up” to help avoid extra feelings of resentment toward the baby. 

5. Give responsibilities: Ask for help when changing a diaper by having your older child bring over wipes or a toy to entertain the baby. Praise the older sibling about how good they are at being helpful and making the baby happy.

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