Children often show jealousy in fits of rage or refusal to listen, but we can help them cope with such big emotions.
Even if we’re tempted to lecture our children, to condemn or snap at them, we should not forget that they simply need to be heard. The emotions as well as the reactions they provoke can explode without a warning. Such things are brought about by our perception of the world. Moral neutrality is a tool provided by nature to confront existential problems. If instead of listening, we methodically indulge in criticism, we will be telling our child that what he or she feels is wrong. When the child suppresses his emotions, he loses confidence and conforms to the desires of those around him. If we want to help a child flourish as a person, we must hear him out.
A child who is not heard or understood feels that he has hit a wall and can become violent. All of the frustrations that have been bottled up transform into rage and agitation or else they manifest themselves in mysterious aches and pains. The parents’ role consists in helping the child resist the urges that might result from jealousy. If hearing him out is essential, it is equally important to prevent the child from becoming a slave to his emotions: “Yes, you can feel jealous but it does not mean you can hit your brother.”
Never forget to say “I love you”
In assuring our child of our affection, we are helping him to deal with jealousy in an acceptable manner. The child learns how to tell the difference between what he feels and how he can appropriately react. This takes us back to the words from the Bible: “Nothing outside a person can defile them by going into them. Rather, it is what comes out of a person that defiles them,” (Mark. 7:15).
Our children can manifest emotions that frighten us and leave us feeling powerless but there are questions we can ask to keep calm and to help them. First, ask: What are they trying to tell me with their tantrums and fits of jealousy? And then ask, What message do I wish to pass on? If it’s a message of love, it will be the encouraging “I love you”. Our little ones need to hear these words, especially when they are experiencing big emotions.
Élisabeth Content (Marriage councilor and family therapist)
If you’re reading this article, it’s thanks to the generosity of people like you, who have made Aleteia possible.
Here are some numbers:
- 20 million users around the world read Aleteia.org every month
- Aleteia is published every day in eight languages: English, French, Arabic, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, Polish, and Slovenian
- Each month, readers view more than 50 million pages
- Nearly 4 million people follow Aleteia on social media
- Each month, we publish 2,450 articles and around 40 videos
- We have 60 full time staff and approximately 400 collaborators (writers, translators, photographers, etc.)
As you can imagine, these numbers represent a lot of work. We need you.
Support Aleteia with as little as $1. It only takes a minute. Thank you!