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Advice from Dr. John on Anxiety
Jealousy vs Envy
by Dr. John Irvine Ph.D - Feature from Educational Experience
Zelly is green with envy!
He is the brand new monster in Andi Green’s new WorryWoo book, “The Monster Who Wanted it All”. He just wasn’t satisfied with what he had. As Andi Green writes, “Zelly was an envious one, so envious to the core…. Nothing was ever good enough, he always wanted more”. Let me begin by suggesting that envy is usually about wanting more “things”.
Unlike Zelly’s envy for more things, jealousy is usually not so much about things as about relationships; it usually involves competition and seriously getting even! I will share this case story. Paul was so jealous of his brother David that he'd sabotage his games, his parties, his friends. He refused to sit next to him in the car. If they were at the table together ,he’d put a box up in between them so he wouldn’t have to look at his dorky brother. In fact, if he passed David in the passageway ,Paul would hold his breath. He’d even time how long mum took saying goodnight to David to make sure he got the same amount of time.
"...jealousy is usually not so much about things as about relationships..." Dr John
Paul had had had mum all to himself for 4 years before David turned up, and he hated the loss of top spot. Finally, we managed to get the hate up and blurted out., and Dad made a point of starting Karate just with Paul. But fate also played a part. The family home was broken into. Both boys were scared witless ,and for the first time in their lives, they both started to need each other a bit more for moral support.
Sibling rivalry often has elements of both envy and jealousy. It’s worse if the kids are close in age, or of the same sex (or are in hitting distance of each other). But whereas sibling rivalry is mutual, jealousy and envy are usually one sided. It’s very common when one child has something another child wants (attention, possessions, love, good relationship with a parent etc.). When the jealousy is over a new baby or younger child, it’s not only the lack of attention, it's a devastating loss of bio-rhythm, of security and of the top spot in the pecking order. However it presents itself, there are some sound ways to check it out and treat it.
• Does the parent or caretaker have a favorite child? If so ,the others are likely to develop a “pet hate.”
• Did the “jealous one” have rights or privileges taken away with the arrival or enrollment of the one they’re jealous of?
• Is the “Jealousy” more popular, have more friends, or is more socially appealing etc?
• Is the so called victim, subtly trying to sideline the jealous one away from being in the parents’ or teacher’s good books?
It will come as no surprise to you if I say that kids can be devious.
• Set up a few good habits. Especially around the age of 6 or so, when everything must be “fair”, consider using an oven timer
to ensure that the kids are getting their fair share of attention, computer time, or story time etc.
• Help each child find their own niche in life so they don't have to be jealous of anyone else's. And if you’re good at being in two
or three places simultaneously, try for different friends or hobbies or sports if there’s jealousy in those areas.
• If you don’t like one particular child, then you can bet that child knows it. Spend time getting to know each other as there’s a
seething soul burning away down there, and they need to make their peace.
• Help them to find a level headed soul mate they can unload on so it’s not brewing up a storm. That person may be their
teacher or grandparent.
• Do get hold of Zelly and the new Andi Green book “The Monster who wanted it all” – it provides lots of ideas and opportunities
for discussion about envy and greed and jealousy so the kids can recognize and manage these emotions.
• Of course, some personalities are much more at risk of developing serious levels of jealousy or envy than others. Don’t
hesitate to seek advice from a clinical psychologist if it’s causing grief. Zelly found his peace through a dream, but the
outcome can be a nightmare if parents and education professionals don’t deal with it early on.
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