Jealousy is defined by Merriam Webster as being “a feeling of grudging admiration and desire to have something that is possessed by another”. Although jealousy itself is common and is simply defined, it is actually a quite complex emotion, especially when it comes to jealousy with teens or pre-teens. Because teens, knowing how much pride a lot of us hold, will often not want to admit that we are experiencing feelings of jealousy, it can be a hard topic for parents to bring up and, especially, handle. It is essential for parents to understand how to break through this barrier and help their teen deal with jealousy, as jealous emotions can often result in negative behaviors or actions that teens will end up regretting.
- Do not be confrontational. If your teen is the one that has directly come to talk to you, then this part isn’t really necessary. But if you are trying to approach your teen about jealous behaviors/actions that you have witnessed, then this is important. Firstly, make sure that they are willing to talk about the situation and that you aren’t forcing them to talk about something that they do not want to talk about. Sometimes teens aren’t comfortable with confiding in parents about jealous emotions and would rather deal with them on their own, or they feel that the situation is small enough to handle, unless the feelings are to further escalate.
- Remind them that jealousy is completely normal and that essentially EVERYBODY has experienced it. Although this one may seem quite obvious, sometimes it is easy for teens to forget and for them to just simply believe that they are feeling this way because they aren’t “good enough”.
- Share one of your personal experiences with jealousy and how you’ve dealt with it in the past. This is a good one because, just like the last point, it helps teens feel less isolated on this issue, and sharing this experience with your teen can also help break the barrier of awkwardness or embarrassment your teen may feel talking about this topic to one of their parents.
- Help your teen get to the bottom of their jealous feelings. Is it an issue of personal image (as in are they jealous of something that somebody else posses because they feel less adequate not possessing this)? Is it something deeper that is coming from the relationship that is causing these feelings of jealousy?
- Advise your teen to consider confronting the issue head-on. Especially when they are feeling jealous about a friend or somebody that they are close to, it really helps for them to talk to the person directly about it in order to avoid tension or friendship issues resulting from the jealousy— who knows, the friend may have also felt jealous of your teen at one point or another also!
To sum it up, just try to connect with your teen the best that you can when it comes to this issue without being too pushy. Talking about jealousy with your teen will not only help them deal with the issue that they are having regarding it, but it will also help both of you connect on a deeper level based on mutual personal experiences on the topic in which you can both relate with and learn from.
Flickr photo credit: Vaskeklut