Ara is a 15-year-old from Edmonds, WA. She enjoys blogging, spending time with her family and hopes to somehow incorporate her passion of writing into what she does in the future.
Jealousy– or the green-eyed monster, as Shakespeare called it, refers to the feeling of anxiety, fear, and insecurity. It can affect our relationships with the people around us and the way we view ourselves. Jealousy is an important subject to cover when talking to your teenager as it is essential to understand and know how to deal with jealousy at this age when we are maturing and forming new relationships or maintaining current ones. Jealousy can be especially prevalent and destructive in teenage years due to the comparisons and pressure to act and look a certain way and also because it’s a time when we are still learning how to cope with issues and handle our emotions. Because jealousy is a reactionary emotion, it is completely normal. Almost all of us can say that we’ve felt it at one point or another, but problems can arise when feelings become unmanageable.
In order to be able to talk to teenagers about jealousy, and also get a better idea of what kind of situation they are in, it helps to understand the different types that they may be experiencing:
Romantic jealousy or jealousy in relationships: Romantic jealousy is common because a strong emotional bond between two people leaves both vulnerable and open to potential heartbreak. In a relationship, jealousy can be a combination of possessiveness, suspicion and rage. Something as simple as knowing that a partner has a friend of the opposite sex can make one feel jealous.
Jealousy in friendships: Jealousy can arise in a friendship for many reasons. But most of the time, it’s due to feelings of comparison, a fear of being replaced, and fear of competition. For example, one friend is extremely athletic and is the star of a sports team at their high school, and the other friend compares herself to her friend, feeling as though she is inadequate since she has not accomplished the same thing as her friend.
Family jealousy: Family jealousy can be anything from sibling rivalry to a family member comparing one member to another. Jealousy with family is harder to deal with due to the fact that most of us spend countless amounts of hours around ours; it is a lot easier to compare ourselves with others or compete with others when they are constantly surrounding us. For example, a lot of us have heard this one, “Why can’t you just act/be/get good grades like so and so?” from a parent or member of our family.
Talking to your teen about jealousy:
- Don’t be intrusive. Try to bring up the conversation casually, and avoid speaking in a tone that may come off as confrontational.
- Have them evaluate the situation rather than just identifying what’s making them jealous. By having them assess the situation as a whole (the friendship/relationship with the person and also the situation) it will help them come to a conclusion as to how they will deal with the situation and also the emotions that come with jealousy.
- Remind them that other people’s actions aren’t more important than who they are as a person. When you are experiencing jealous feelings, you are often focused on the other person rather than on yourself and your own positive qualities and aspects, and it can become easy to devalue yourself. Have your teenager list some positive things about themselves; replacing a jealous thought with a positive one can turn the whole situation around.
- It may be hard for your teen to talk them self into being reasonable when they’re in a situation where they absolutely can’t fight away that horrible feeling of jealousy – it isn’t easy! So remind them to try their best to keep cool and take deep breaths because jealous feelings can easily turn into behavior that they will likely regret.
- Tell them that it’s OK for them to talk to the person who they are feeling jealousy towards. Not only will this help them get some weight off their shoulders, but it will also help to avoid tension within the relationship/friendship.
- Make sure that they know that what they are experiencing is completely normal! Let them know that nothing is wrong with them or the way that they feel. Sharing a personal experience will also help your teenager feel like he or she is not alone and that they have somebody close to them that they can relate to.
Jealousy is an important topic that should definitely be covered by all parents. Talking to and teaching your teenagers about jealousy will not only help them to be more confident when it comes to relationships with others, but it will also equip them with skills that will help them be more confident with themselves.
Photo credit: lamazone from Flickr
Did you like this post? Check out our new book: Do I Get My Allowance Before or After I’m Grounded? This is the groundbreaking new parenting book written by Vanessa and her teens! Get a secret view into the world of adolescents and prescriptive advice on everything from lying, to texting to procrastination.