Dealing with Jealous Children

Young children particularly are often jealous of siblings, a parent's new partner or other children. This is especially the case if the child thinks that one, or both, of the parents are giving more attention to one of these other people. Children often display attention seeking behavior when they are jealous. Often kids aren't good at sharing things with others and will need assistance to get over tendencies to grab things from other children and throwing tantrums. Jealousy can sometimes lessen as they get older, but there are things you can do to help children deal with feelings of jealousy.

Things You Should and Shouldn't Do When Trying to Help a Jealous Child:

Although it's tempting to tell children off when they show attention seeking behavior, avoid doing so. Usually there is a reason behind behavioral changes, so it's important to try and work out what is causing it. If there is a new member of the family, for instance, a child may feel insecure and be worried that you don't love them any more. The jealous child may even think you've had another one because they weren't good enough for you. Similar feelings often happen when a parent gets with a new partner. Little children think that their parents belong to them and are not sympathetic to their parents when they see them in other roles. This kind of jealousy, however, is usually something that they will grow out of, so try not to worry too much about it.

Talking to your child about their behavior is important. Ask them what they are feeling. You should explain that jealousy is a natural emotion and that they are not a bad person for feeling jealous. While explaining that it is OK for them to feel this way, tell them that they shouldn't take it out on others by bullying brothers and/or sisters or by having tantrums. You could point out in which ways they are lucky compared with a new little baby, for example. Highlight the advantages of being an older child. Later bed time, or play dates with friends, for instance, are all things an older child gets to do that a younger one doesn't.

Ensure that you spend some special time with the jealous child so that they understand they are just as important to you as your new partner, or a new child. Allot some time each week for to do an activity that the child enjoys, and also spend time just relaxing together and talking. This will give the child a chance to discuss any concern they have with you alone.

Also make sure that you include the jealous child as much as possible in new relationships. This way they will not feel left out. Have family meal times where the child and a new partner get to eat together or give them tasks to help out with a new baby. The more involved they feel, the less likely they are to feel jealous. Giving them special tasks will also help make them feel grown up and responsible and therefore less likely to act out.


Although jealous children can make life difficult for parents, it is natural for them to feel jealous on times. Try not to worry too much about a little jealousy displayed by your a child. Chances are it is a passing phase and will cease to be a problem in the longer term.