Jealousy is a normal human emotion

Jealousy is described as ‘the feeling of anger or bitterness which someone has when they wish that they could have the qualities or possessions that another person has’. Understanding the root causes and effects of jealousy in children is crucial for fostering a healthy emotional environment at home and at school. It is also important to remember that jealously is a normal human emotion.jealousy

This, however, does not mean jealously should be ignored. Parents are well advised to guide their children away from this negative state. Comparisons often cause jealously – avoid comparing children socially, physically, emotionally, and academically. Every child is unique and highlighting this uniqueness in a positive way will encourage your child to look at situations differently – and help prevent the arousal of a jealous reaction.

Some causes of jealously in learners include:

  • Academic competition – with grades and accolades often serving as benchmarks for success, schools create a degree of competition, and learners can feel pressured to meet high expectations set by parents and/or teachers.
  • Social dynamics – feeling excluded or sensing that their friends are forming closer bonds with others can lead children to feelings of inadequacy and fears of being replaced or left out.
  • Physical and material comparisons – with media and society’s standards promoting certain ideals of beauty and success, comparisons related to clothing, gadgets, or physical attributes such as height, weight, and overall attractiveness can cause a feeling of lack, resulting in jealousy.
  • Parental attention and approval – children crave support and attention from their parents so, when they perceive siblings or peers receiving more praise or affection, jealousy can emerge.

Some effects of jealousy on learners include:

  • Negative self-perception and low self-esteem, leading to feelings of worthlessness and inadequacy, which can impact children’s overall emotional well-being.
  • Acting out to draw attention to themselves – or to diminish the success of those they envy with aggression, withdrawal, or bullying.
  • Contrary to the belief that competition drives better performance, some learners, overwhelmed by jealousy, might become disheartened, leading to a decline in academic achievement.
  • Children who are often jealous may find it difficult to form and maintain healthy friendships.

Although jealousy is a natural emotion, its impact on learners can be profound. By understanding its causes and effects, and by applying strategies to address it, parents can help children overcome these feelings – and create a supportive and caring environment.

There is no greater glory than love, nor any greater punishment than jealousy.

- Lope de Vega –



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