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Jealousy in Families with Multiple Children

to them openly.

 

Attributes of jealousy

 

If children suppress the feeling of jealousy, it usually re-appears

as bad behavior. For example, a child is jealous of a younger brother,

but is punished for speaking about his “bad” feelings. He

even has a dream where he throws his brother from the tenth floor of a

building. He wakes-up crying, and runs to the bed to check his younger

brother’s presence there. The parents, having seen this, understand

the child’s feelings as the expression of tender love when it is

really just a kind of simplification (the dream appeared to be just a

dream).

 

 

In nightmares, children often express the things they are afraid to say

in words. It’s better to let them tell their parents about their

jealousy or rage than it is to allow it to lead it up to nightmares.

 

 

Soon after the birth of his sister, 5-year-old Valera began to suffer

from strange attacks: he coughed hoarsely and choked frequently. Valera’s

parents took him to the doctor, but the doctor could not find the basis

of these attacks. Later, it turned out that jealousy was the main reason

behind it. Valera had to learn to express his feelings in the form of

words in order to stop the asthma attacks.



















 

Some children show jealousy in the form of coughing or skin reactions.

Others urinate in their beds, showing their protest. Still others bite

their nails and scratch. There are also children who become destructive.

All these children have to learn to express their feelings -- not indirectly,

but in the form of words that can be easily understood by the people around

them.

 

Jealousy is varied

 

It is necessary for parents to accept that their children are jealous,

even if it is not vivid. Jealousy is varied: it hides in the most sudden

reactions and acts. It may be shown in constant competitions between children

or in absence of any desire to compete, in necessity in everything to

be the first or in unrepresented modesty, in reckless generosity or in

improbable greed. Bitter results of unsolved childhood rivalries often

influence adult life.

 

 

Along with being overly-competitive, the consequences of childhood rivalries

include the refusal to resist life’s failures, the refusal to face

life’s difficulties, and the refusal to fight for realization of

personal rights. The rivalry between children in the family, therefore,

influences the development of personal qualities more then the grown-ups

think.

 

Sources of jealousy

 

Jealousy originates from the child’s wish to be the only beloved

child of his mother. He or she doesn’t want, and can’t stand,

any contenders. If, within the family, one other child (or several of

them) appears, the struggle for mother’s love usually begins. This

rivalry may be latent or obvious -- it depends upon parents’ attitude

towards the problem of jealousy.

 

 

Sometimes parents get angry over any display of rivalry, so they punish

their children strictly for it. In some families, parents try not to give

any reason for jealousy. They persuade their children that there is enough

love for everybody and that’s why it isn’t worth being jealous.

Praise, presents, kisses, new clothes, and delicious dishes are distributed

equally.

 

 

It’s a pity that neither this nor that method can solve the problem

of jealousy: every child wants to be loved more in comparison to others.

As it is impossible to realize this wish, so it is impossible to solve

this problem to the fullest extent. But we, as adults, are responsible

for the fire of jealousy whether it will decay quietly or burn to the

sky.

 

 

In other equal conditions, children’s jealousy and envy can be

caused by differences in age and differences between sexes. The eldest

brother is envied because he has a lot of privileges and independence.

The youngest is envied because the parents give him more attention. Sisters

are envied by their brothers because they have more freedom for acting.

Brothers envy sisters because are given more attention.

 

 

The danger appears when parents, being guided by their own sympathies,

underline the difference of sexes and age. When a father or a mother prefers

a helpless child to an independent elder son (or vise versa) the feeling

of jealousy increases. The same happens if a child is more appreciated

for his beauty, sex, wit, musical ability or social skills.

 

 

We don’t suggest that parents treat older children and younger

children the same way. On the contrary, the older a child is, the more

privileges he or she has and the more responsibility he or she should

take for his or her actions. For example, the eldest son should have more

pocket money, more freedom in the choice of friends, and should be able

to have a later bed-time. Parents should give these privileges to their

children openly so that children aspire to achieve them with age.

 

 

Younger children often envy older children. We should help them to cope

with their feelings, but not by explaining facts. It is only necessary

to express our understanding of these feelings.

 

  • Of course you would like to go to bed later.
  • You would like to grow up quicker.




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