Jealousy is a normal human emotion that blends envy with suspicion, according to the Women’s and Children’s Health Network. When a teen feels jealous, it can bring out her competitive nature for better or worse. Feeling jealous of a classmate who got a better test score can encourage a teen to work harder academically, which is a good thing. However, the emotion can have negative repercussions if it brings about feelings of anger, low self-esteem, rejection or revenge. If jealousy is getting the best of your teen, you can help her come to grips with this powerful emotion.
Encourage your teen to talk. Help him express his problem by telling you exactly how he feels and why. If your teen is jealous about the praise you give to another sibling, for example, he might say, “I feel invisible because it seems like you always talk about how well Darren does in school, but you don’t say anything about my accomplishments. According to a 2011 WebMD article, feelings of jealousy can subside in a teen when he shares his feelings with the offending party in a way that isn’t judgmental, especially if the other party wasn’t aware of how the teen was feeling.
Listen without judgment. If your teen feels as if she can’t confront the person at the source of her jealous feelings, simply listening to her talk about her problem might help. As the National Institute of Mental Health notes, during the teen years, the brain is going through new stages of development, which combined with hormonal changes, cause a young people to experience new feelings, changes in social priorities and gain new reasoning skills. Letting a teen talk about her jealous feelings might help her find a resolution on her own.
Build the teen’s self-esteem. Feelings of inadequacy can lead to jealousy and low self-esteem, notes the American Psychological Association. When a teen feels better about himself, he is less likely to feel jealous of others. To build a teen’s self-image, acknowledge his efforts, thank him for his good deeds and celebrate his achievements on an ongoing basis. When a teen shares that he feels jealous of another person, help him recognize his own gifts and accomplishments. You might also help him feel happy for the person with whom he is jealous, and/or set a self-improvement goal for the future.
Remind your teen that jealousy is a temporary emotion. This emotion is one of the ways that a teen learns that some things in life aren’t fair. By helping a teen accept this fact instead of protecting her from it, she’ll build resiliency, use jealousy as a motivation to keep trying her best and remember her sources of true happiness as she matures.
- Women’s and Children’s Health Network: Jealously—When it’s All about You
- WebMD: My Sister Is Driving Me Nuts! How to Deal with Sibling Rivalry
- American Psychological Association: Study Links Jealousy with Aggression, Low Self-Esteem
- National Institute of Mental Health: The Teen Brain: Still Under Construction
- Photo Credit Digital Vision./Digital Vision/Getty Images