Why Your Child is Jealous and What You Can Do About It

Most parents understand jealousy. Either their child is jealous, or else they have experienced jealousy themselves as children. And no, you don’t need to have a sibling to feel jealous. I know many only children who are jealous; they can’t handle their parents paying attention to any other child.

I believe a child feels jealous only if his parents don’t pay sufficient attention to him. Even if he is a single child, with no other ‘competitors’ for his parents’ attention, he will feel the emotion of jealousy – though he might not express it. But the moment his parents focus their attention on another child, sibling or not, this jealousy is expressed.

The jealousy does not arise because the parents are paying more attention to someone else; but because they have not paid enough attention to the child. Read this sentence over and over again. If you have, or know, (or were yourself) a jealous child, you will see the truth of this.

As an early teen, I was babysitting 5 kids who were all very fond of me; the oldest was 7, and the youngest 3. Their parents got together as a group every few months, and each time, I would babysit the kids. As I was organizing them into a game, one of the girls came up to tell me something her grandmother had told her.  As she whispered into my ear (it was a secret meant only for me 🙂 ), the most aggressive of the lot, a 4 year old, pulled the scarf around my neck tight, almost strangling me. I took what preventive action I could and yanked the scarf out of her hands.

After catching my breath, I told her that she had pulled the scarf so tight that I had had difficulty breathing. Her response: “I’ll do it again if you share secrets with anyone but me. I will strangle you. You are NOT to be anyone else’s special friend – only mine.”

I ignored her, and turned to the child who had been whispering in my ear. The aggressive girl pulled my scarf tight once more, but I slipped it off my neck. She then started yanking at my clothes and hitting my legs, shouting that she wouldn’t let me listen to the other girl. I turned and asked her, “Do you want me to listen to you?”

She shouted, “Yes.”

“You have to stop hitting me and stop shouting and then I will listen to you.”

She kept hitting me and shouting, “You must listen to me – only me. You must be only my friend. I won’t let you play with anyone else.”

I left the room, shutting the door behind me and holding it shut. She kept banging and shouting from the inside. After a few moments, I opened the door, and came back in. She was in a full-blown tantrum, eyes streaming, nose running, throat screaming and arms flailing.

I held her to me in a tight hug, imprisoning her arms between our bodies. As I held her, I patted her back, and made soothing noises. When she had quieted down to the occasional sob, I pulled away, and asked if she was feeling better. She nodded.

“I like you very much, you know,” I told her. She put her arms around me and said she liked me very much too.

“You hurt me when you pulled my scarf, and when you were hitting me and shouting,” I told her.

“But you were listening to her!” she said.

I explained that I didn’t belong to any one person; I had to look after all of them, and they knew each other so well…!

She insisted that she wanted to be the closest to me: “You are my favorite, and I have to be your favorite too.”

I told her things didn’t work that way. “How can I be your favorite?” she asked.

“Hitting and strangling me is definitely not the way to go,” I told her.

We settled for peace, and the rest of the evening passed off uneventfully.

Her parents were very indulgent. Her every wish was granted. “She’s such a terror, we dare not thwart her” her parents said. But despite that, the child was jealous, because she didn’t get enough attention from the parents. It was almost as if she were a nuisance, who had to be controlled before she got out of hand. Never did I see her parents enjoy being with her for the joy of her company. Never did I hear them appreciate her for who she was; though she earned plenty of praise for her many academic and co-curricular achievements.

But your child wants more than that from you. He wants to be valued first and foremost for the person he is, and only then for things he has ‘done’.

As I grew up and observed this child grow up, I found that she retained the jealous streak even after she’d graduated from school! (Her parents are family friends, so we stayed in touch, though the babysitting had stopped a long time back.) In conversation, she came across as a mature, well-read, impressive adult, but the veneer cracked the moment her parents (or anyone she was attached to) paid the least attention to anyone but herself.

So your child might be feeling jealous because he is not getting enough attention from you (enough according to him, because this is about his feelings). You might be disbelieving: “What! ME not paying enough attention to my child? Nonsense!”

Sorry, but what you think doesn’t matter. How your child feels is the ‘truth’ for him, and that is what determines his behavior.

To make matters worse, you hold your child’s sibling(s) up as a shining example of what he/she is not.

To your little one, you say:

“Look at X: he is so responsible. He puts things back, packs his school bag, does his chores, studies, helps you with things… And you! You don’t even put the cap back on the tube of toothpaste! You should learn from….”

To the elder sibling who has been upheld as the example of a model child (the one you’re raving about in the previous paragraph), you say:

“Look at Y: she is so little, yet she has such charming manners. She says please and thank you and doesn’t interrupt people… And you! You don’t speak, you growl. You’re frowning all the time. You barely mumble. You interrupt people. And now you’ve started walking away while people are still speaking to you. Hey! Where are you going? Come back, I haven’t finished…” 🙂

And then you wring your hands and complain to anyone who will listen and lose sleep at night that your children are jealous of each other!

Here are 3 steps to restore your peace of mind:

1. Pay each child enough attention – they may want different types of attention. At different times in their lives, they will want your attention in different ways. Do your best to understand what kind of attention they want, and give it to them. Spend time one-on-one with each child. This is YOUR special “Dad-and-Kid” or “Mom-and-Kid” time, and each kid gets equal amounts of time each week.

2. Praise each child to his and her face – Let him know what you like about him. Tell her what you like about her. Approving of something is a great way of reinforcing it, so let them know every day what they did ‘right’. Corollary: Don’t compare them. It’s alright if he’s a neatnik at 3 and she’s a slob at 8. Each child has many praise-worthy qualities – focus on those.

3. Never tell ANYONE which child you love more, even though one child is probably dearer to you than the other(s) – I’ve committed sacrilege by bringing into the open this deeply buried, barely acknowledged, never admitted secret of parents; but you know it’s true. The notion that each parent loves all his/her children equally is just that – a notion. (Your guilt about this fact drives you to say and do all kinds of things to make life more difficult for yourself and your children.)

Write and tell me how it goes. 🙂

30 Responses to Why Your Child is Jealous and What You Can Do About It

  1. Brian Smyth February 14, 2014 at 3:20 am #

    I see your point but I will have to disagree with you in the sense that (especially in only children) you can give them too much attention !! They need to learn moderation and how to control their feeling by acknowledging the emotions and then dealing with them. I think your solution will perpetuate the negative behavior just like the parents did by trying to please their daughter to rid the jealousy. Tough love goes a long way sister.

    • Vinita Zutshi February 14, 2014 at 7:14 am #

      Brian, I completely agree with you. Most children these days suffer from too much (or too little) attention.

      I feel what matters is the quality of a parent’s attention. If the child is saying something, and a parent listens attentively, engages, responds and so on, then the parent can switch off and leave the child to his own devices once this episode is over. This sort of tough love, when practiced over a period of time, will show children that they can count on their parents, but must also rely on themselves.

      Thanks for sharing!

  2. Lisa February 25, 2014 at 3:49 am #

    My husband and I have a soon to be 9 year old daughter, we are both guilty of giving in to much to her requests , especially me. She feels entitled , envious of others, she has become rude and disrespectful towards both of us, but I address it, my husband walks away from it. He is passive aggressive and I believe in addressing every issue that affects my family.
    But our biggest problem is this jealousy towards her dad , she wants me to herself. My husband and I want to put a plan together and stop this jealousy before it’s out of our control.
    Be with the venom towards her dad ,it makes me wonder if I should discuss what we want from her and what we expect from her without him in the room.

  3. Vinita Zutshi March 12, 2014 at 10:38 am #

    Hi Lisa,

    My apologies for the late response. I was on vacation at a remote location when you sent the email, and by the time I got back, it had been buried deep in my inbox. I’m glad I finally found it.

    This is a truly difficult situation for you all, made more difficult by your daughter’s jealousy of her dad.

    I think it might be better if both you and your husband spelled out your expectations of her as a team. This will send her the message that you and he are a primary team, and she cannot muscle in on it.

    If you were to speak with her alone first, it might enhance the sense she seems to have that you and she are the inner circle, and your husband is the outsider trying to be included.

    It must be difficult for her as well, that parents who were giving in to her every wish have suddenly turned intransigent. My post Letting Your Child Make You Happy and Other Such Ideas (http://carefreeparenting.com/letting-your-child-make-you-happy-and-other-such-ideas/) might be helpful, though the accent here would be for your daughter to realize how she is in control of her own happiness.

    It sounds like too much to explain to and expect from a child, but I have always believed – and found – that it is we who fall short. Our children are capable of far more than we give them credit for, if only we’re willing to take the risk and reach out.

    It’s wonderful that you believe in tackling these issues head-on, because that’s the only way forward. It’s difficult now, but will be much tougher in a couple of years, with the tweens becoming almost as watershed a phase of life as the teens, in terms of behavior change and so on.

    It might also be interesting to see how and why your daughter has developed this feeling that your husband is (or should be) competing with her for your attention. If you can find stories in books, or in your childhood which have parallel situations, and share them with her, you might be able to get an idea of what caused such thoughts to originate. You can then begin to address them.

    On another note, another friend with a 9-year old daughter (again, only child) far prefers her mother’s company to her father’s, though there is no sense of jealousy. From what I’ve observed, the mother is a fun person, always looking to engage the child and make experiences come alive for her, discussing what she (the child) thinks about things and so on, whereas the father’s style is more “we’re watching TV together so we’re doing stuff together”. No wonder the child prefers being with her mum.

    Lisa, my best wishes are with you and your family to overcome this. The knowledge that dealing with this will bring you closer will give you the strength and fortitude to push through.

    Do let me know how it works out, and if there’s anything else I can do to help.


  4. denise May 27, 2014 at 9:12 pm #

    What about kids and friends? My family is friends with another family that is very dear to us but they don’t want my kids to have any other friends. Often saying they hate the other friends, becoming aggressive and name calling to my own girls. I’m at a loss as we enjoy each other when it is just us.

    • Vinita Zutshi May 28, 2014 at 7:27 am #

      Denise, it must be difficult for you, and even more so for your girls, especially since you value the other family’s friendship and would like to keep it. I’ve seen so many instances of this “if-you’re-my-friend-you-can’t-be-anyone-else’s” thinking.

      One effective way to counter it is to respond with some variation of “if-YOU’RE-my-friend-then-you-won’t-blackmail-me-and-make-me-miserable-by-forcing-me-to-choose-between-you-and-everyone-else-and-treating-me-badly-if-I-pay-attention-to-anyone-else-while-you’re-around”. Saying this opens the way for talking about why the others feel the way they do. You may then find some way out.

      The very real risk here is that the other person may not get it, and the relationship might be adversely affected. But such a relationship is adverse anyway! If your children have to keep assuring the other family that they are treasured friends, then there will never be an end to this.

      One way or the other, your girls are learning early that there’s a price for every friendship. It’s up to them to decide whether the price is worthwhile or not. Good luck, Denise, and thank you for writing in!

  5. Melanie June 12, 2014 at 7:59 am #

    My youngest child is a handful to say the least and seems to require my attention at the most inopportune times. I am worn thin and feel like I have little energy in reserve by mid-afternoon. I can be playing with my kids, reading books, taking them for walks at the park, etc., but if the phone rings, or I have to attend to business at a store or office, this little guy comes running up to sing or yell in my ear, happily but purposefully, clearly just to distract me and upset my plans to talk to whomever I need to. I think it is a power struggle, but it comes across as jealousy because he is competing for my attention. I do give him quality attention whenever he shows interest and quality space when he seems to prefer that. Otherwise, when he is in neutral, I’m more of a “protective observer”, attending to my own needs while keeping an eye on theirs. But if, at any time, an adult wants to talk to me, there he is trying to see how much he can irritate me and get away with it, due to my being occupied and unable to control him as effectively. My other son only has 14 months on him, but he never went through this. My youngest seems to prefer challenging people, where my oldest prefers to be helpful. What can I do?

    • Jared November 24, 2014 at 9:16 am #

      Man that sounds like our little boy you could try a rewards chart….you know what i mean -he gets a star or sticker for good behaviour on the chart or one taken away for bad behaviour which will be your currancy toget him to behave…5 stars gets a lollie or something he will like.
      Good luck

      • Vinita Zutshi November 24, 2014 at 3:17 pm #

        Jared, a reward chart is a great idea! As the child grows, however, the reward will have to be internalized, not something someone will give him (or withhold from him as punishment), if it has to work.

        Thanks for writing in!

    • Vinita Zutshi November 24, 2014 at 3:29 pm #

      Melanie, firstly, my deepest apologies on the horrendously late response.

      Some children really do seem to be able to push our buttons, and keep pushing, don’t they? Your younger one certainly sounds like that. One reason your younger son may enjoy challenging people is that as the youngest, he may feel the most powerless, and this is his way of feeling like he can bend people to his will, which seems to be important to him.

      To counter this, it might be a good idea to let him make relatively safe decisions himself, and to follow through on those. For instance, he can decide which of 3 activities to indulge in during playtime. He can decide which fruit he’d like to eat (of the ones available) and so on. This could help him feel powerful. Another way is that the entire family follows his lead. So he picks what the family will have for dinner, for instance, or which bedsheet goes on the bed, and so on.

      Another way for you to reach your younger son would be to let him know how annoying it is to be continually interrupted. So you do a reverse role play with him. Say he enjoys playing with Lego blocks. While he’s playing, you continually move blocks around, mess up his planning and placement, and so on, all the while repeating that you want his attention in some way. (Basically, do unto him as he does unto you.)

      You’ll know when he’s had enough of this behavior! 🙂

      Later, when he calms down, ask him how he felt when you behaved that way with him, and tell him how you feel the same way when he doesn’t allow you to have a conversation with somebody (or whatever else he interrupts). Rinse and repeat.

      You could also reward him for good behavior (not interrupting you as you perform a task, or converse with someone) with an extra story – just for him, or 10 minutes more one-on-one play time, or roughhousing with him or whatever he’d like.

      All the best with (and to! 🙂 ) your boys, Melanie, and heartfelt apologies once more on the l-o-n-g delay in responding.

  6. sharon December 9, 2014 at 10:06 pm #

    Everyone has experienced jealousy on some level. Not just children. You cannot justify this issue with blanket reasoning, “I believe a child feels jealous ONLY if his parents don’t pay sufficient attention to him.”

    • Vinita Zutshi December 12, 2014 at 10:04 am #

      Sharon, what an insightful comment you’ve made!

      I completely agree with you. Jealousy is part of a person’s nature, and some people have it in greater measure than others.

      However, because a child has no previous impressions, once a certain minimum level of attention has been paid to the child, if the parent(s) feel that he is exhibiting very high levels of jealousy, it is best to help him manage the emotion from an early age.

      The truth is, for a jealous person, no amount of attention is “enough”. A parent can help their child see that jealousy is an eternally hungry monster. The way forward is for the child to see that she is being unreasonable when she makes demands beyond a point, and for the parent to help her accept her emotion and find happiness by managing it. Easier said than done, I know. 🙂

      It is harder for adults to manage jealousy because it has become more deeply ingrained in them over time, and unfortunately, it is often mistaken for “love”, leading to misery for everyone involved.

      I’m working on a course to help parents manage jealousy in their children. The launch is tentatively scheduled for Summer 2015.

      Thanks for taking the time to leave a comment, Sharon!

  7. Mel January 9, 2015 at 10:14 am #

    i have a 4 year who attends dance class and swimming class with a good friend who is the same age as my daughter, her friend excells at everything, she is very focused and does great at dancing and swimming; lately I noticed that my daughter doesn’t want to swim anymore even though she LOVES the water, she can’t move her arms as well as her friend and it seems like she is jealous of her, and maybe she is too competitive; what do I tell her, I simply want her to learn at her own pace and enjoy her classes.
    Any advice?

    • Vinita Zutshi January 9, 2015 at 3:04 pm #

      Mel, it can be very difficult when children want to excel at things and find that they do not. Maybe your daughter wants the same kind of praise or admiration that her friend is getting. This would definitely make her want to withdraw from activities where she feels someone else eclipses her.

      I don’t think this is jealousy; it seems more like a fierce spirit of competition. But in a child so young, it could easily turn into jealousy if not channelled in the right direction.

      You are so right in wanting her to learn at her own pace. She needs to know and feel that she has her place in the sun, just as her friend does.

      One way to show her it is okay to do something even if you don’t do it “the best” is to give her examples from around the house. So between two adults, one may be a great cook while the other isn’t, but both still take turns to cook, and that’s okay. Or maybe you have a hobby that you’re not necessarily great at; you just enjoy doing it. You do it even though you’re not “the best” at it.

      You could also try and find areas where your daughter is “the best,” and show her, for instance, that just because her artwork is the best in the class doesn’t mean the rest of the class doesn’t make art, or that they don’t enjoy it.

      Another useful technique of dealing with this is telling her how practice makes a person better. So if your daughter wants to be praised for her swimming and dance, the way is to relax and concentrate on learning and practicing, so that she gets better. When she does better, she will also get praise.

      Again, examples work wonders. When she was two, she struggled to feed herself. She made a mess. But she kept trying. And today, she can feed herself so well…

      Does someone in the family keep comparing your daughter with other children? This might also foster a sense of competition in a child. Sometimes adults do this thinking they’re “inspiring” the child, or “showing the child a good example to follow,” but this often backfires, because children don’t want to be compared to anyone. Especially since most comparisons always leave a child feeling wanting in some area or the other.

      Typically, if a child is generous, for example, you will rarely see adults around her praise her for her generosity in comparison with other children. One rarely hears “You are the most generous 4-year old I know. I wish other children would learn from you.”

      One usually hears “See X? He brushes his teeth every morning and evening without giving any trouble, and he’s two months younger than you. Why don’t you do the same?”…

      Do let me know what you tried, and how it worked. It’ll take a while, but it’s worthwhile! 🙂

      All the best to you and your little princess!

  8. Jane January 20, 2015 at 5:06 am #

    Hi! I have a 10 years old girl. She has joined her school renewly form basketball team with all the senior (11) years old girls. After two years, they have been very happy in the team. Recently, they have recruited more players (same age as my girl)

    After half a year, one of the new girl improved a lot. And the coach some time because of this new girl, the coach had shouted at my girl for some mistakes. Slowly, my girl had become unhappy. Started gossiping about the new girl because the new girl’s mother always beside the coach, or buying snack or drinks for all the girls. My girl started to say that her mother was trying to bride coach.

    What should I do? I have been trying to talk to her, said you have to improve yourselves also, and the girl was new in the team and she has improved. The coach cannot say much things about the new girl. My girl and the new girl are good friends in the team. I asked my girl how come like that? She cannot explain. What should I do? Should I tell the coach?

    Could you please give me some advise?

    Thank you

    • Vinita Zutshi January 26, 2015 at 8:02 am #

      Hi Jane, thanks for writing in.

      I think there might be two parts to this situation.

      One, where your daughter truly likes the new girl and is friends with her. In this role, your daughter can be happy that her friend has shown improvement, and she can also ask the new girl for help in how to improve her basketball skills herself.

      The second part is that the new girl’s mother is always seen around the coach, perhaps bribing the coach. This may or may not be true. Here, what your daughter needs to understand is that this is how things ARE in the world. It may be fair or unfair, but it cannot be changed. Neither can you try to become friends with the coach and hope this will help your daughter, nor can you stop the new girl’s mother spending time around the coach.

      Also, even if the new girl’s mother is influencing the coach in favor of her daughter, she cannot do it forever. Some day, the new girl will graduate to high school and have a new coach, or go away to college. How long can the mother possibly keep trying to smooth the way for her daughter?

      Your daughter needs to know is there is not much point to blaming other people for something you want and are not able to get. It is very difficult, especially at such a young age, for her to understand that she needs to try harder. We all try hard, but only up to a point. After that, we feel it is “too difficult”. If we can push through the barrier of this “too difficult”, then we can find excellence.

      A good way to move out of this situation would be to schedule a meeting with the coach, with your daughter present at the meeting. You can tell the coach that your daughter would like to play better, and ask what she needs to do to improve her skills. If the coach says, for example, “must improve dribbling”, don’t let it go at that. Ask more questions, such as “improve in what way?”, “how to measure improvement?”, “what movement / action is my daughter doing wrong?”, “how can she correct it?”, “how will she know she has improved?” and so on.

      You can also share that your daughter sometimes feels she is being treated unfairly. I know this is a tricky issue, but I have done it myself many times. If you say it gently, clearly showing the coach that you are not trying to criticize, but only to understand what happened, and how to explain it all to your daughter so that she can understand it in the right way, you will achieve two things:

      1. You will tell the coach that you noticed the perhaps unfair criticism, and will notice all such future episodes as well.
      2. You are not blaming the coach, but trying to understand what happened and why, so that such a situation should be avoided in the future.

      Most adults are open to blame-avoiding conversations, and you will find that your daughter will be free of many of her ideas and worries after this meeting.

      It will clear the air, give her a new sense of purpose and direction to improve her game, and fill her with hope and good vibes.

      Good luck to you both, and do let me know how it worked out.

  9. marie March 1, 2015 at 9:21 am #

    My 18 year old teen daughter is extremely upset that I moved in with her half sister and half sisters hubby and 2 kids. I was laid off from a lucrative job and struggle terribly financially. The move helped me and them.I help greatly with kids. My teen has mental health issues . She lives 35 miles from me with dad. She is shuning me now cuz she is acusing me of making bad decision to make that move. She is trying to make me feel guilty. Also since I moved here 3 months ago my teen has disrespected rules and requests at sisters home and she has blown up in front of babies. She is close to not being welcome at the home. She is bullying me now to move. Also my teen disrespects me. Dad taught her well. He has mental illness too. What should I do? Heartbreaking.
    marie recently posted…Violent Children: What if Your Child Hits You?My Profile

    • Vinita Zutshi March 1, 2015 at 10:43 pm #

      Dear Marie, my heart goes out to you. What an impossible situation to be caught in!

      The only way out is to talk to her, or more accurately, listen to her. I’m sure you’ve tried at least some of these ideas, but still…

      Could you ask her what her objection is to your moving in with her half-sister and her family? A good way to have a productive conversation is to ask her to write down her answers to this question. Sometimes, in conversation, things get muddled up. But if you were to just ask her the question, and ask her to think about the answers and write them down, then you’d have specific reasons why she doesn’t like your having moved in with her half-sister.

      You can then respond to each of her objections calmly. Mental illness makes everything more difficult, and the only way out is to keep speaking with her, repeating yourself in different ways, till something catches her attention, and she understands your point of view.

      A few things you could definitely say to show her how much you love her is that despite her disrespecting behavior towards yourself, her half-sister, and the babies, you’re still rooting for her, struggling to make sure that she can continue to visit. Why would you do this if you didn’t care about her?

      Emphasize that you wouldn’t take such behavior from anyone else, but you’re still gritting your teeth and trying to bear with it–only because you love her and want her in your life. However, she also needs to be told that there is a limit to how much disrespect and misbehavor you will tolerate, which is also another expression of your love for her. Someday, she will want to build a family of her own, and she needs to learn today, from you, her mother, how people in families relate to each other. She will need to teach her kids how to behave. For this, she herself needs to learn how to conduct herself around her family. Emotions are fine, but there are acceptable and unacceptable ways of expressing them, and you would not be a loving mother if you do not show her the difference, and teach her what is right, so that she will know how to be happy herself.

      You can read my post “The Loving Parent, the Nice Parent, and the Difference Between Them” to get some more ideas of what to say to your teen.

      In all this, no matter how much you believe her dad has been tutoring her and is responsible for her attitude, please do not bring him up, or blame him. I have found that however true it may be, blaming the other parent only makes it a dog fight, harming your own relationship with your child. What it will definitely not do is make a positive difference to the situation. Even if your teen keeps coming up with “Dad says this, that and the other,” you can tell her you are not responsible for what he says, and she will have to discuss his opinions with him. You are available to her for her feelings, opinions and so on.

      You can also call into play her self-respect as an adult. She needs to learn that becoming an adult is not a magical event that takes place at a moment in time. It needs practice, and that’s what she’s getting, when she tries to come to grips with her emotions, controls them, or thinks about the consequences of her attitude, speech and behavior.

      Is there something your teen really enjoys doing? You could make time each fortnight or once a month to join her in that activity, or be with her as she pursues it. (I mean, if she’s thrilled by playing basketball, neither of you might appreciate your playing with her, but she might like to have you attend a couple of her games, or be with her when she goes to practise, or something like that.) This would be your special time, the time just the two of you share. You can offer her this time unconditionally, despite her unacceptable behavior, as a sign of your love for her.

      Marie, I hope with all my heart that these suggestions work for you. I’d love to hear from you what worked, or if you came up with some other ideas that made a difference, and brought you and your teen peace and joy together.

      All the very best, and if there’s anything else I can help with, please do let me know.

  10. sabah March 2, 2015 at 3:24 am #


    I have a few issues with my son and really need help.

    I have a three year old son and a 13 month daughter. I tried to get my son to adjust to a new baby but it seems like it hasn’t worked. If my daughter is sick and requires more attention my son will tell me to throw her in the garbage. If he is sleepy and I am holding my daughter he will tell me to throw her on the floor. He started to hit her but that eventually stopped and now he pushes her or occasionally will bite her. I’ve tried firm tones to get him to stop but to no avail.

    When my son wakes up in the morning or from his nap time he is angry. He’ll look at me and say ‘I was mad at you’ and will turn the other way. Or when my husband gets back from work he’ll ask my son to come give him a hug instead my son will hit my husband or show him a closed fist. Lately if he goes out he’ll show the ‘fist’ to complete strangers. It’s driving me crazy.

    Also if he sees me paying attention to my husband he’ll go lay face down on the floor and say ‘I’m mad at you’.

    In the past few weeks he just wants me to hold him all the time and not put him down. And from the past few days he’s been telling me to leave whatever I am doing (ie. Cooking) to give him what he wants (ie. Milk) right away.

    I love my son very much and I don’t want to do anything wrong with his upbringing. I have tried everything in my capability from firm tones to telling him stories about related topics or issues. Today my husband and I were talking about these issues and he said to try ignoring instead of stopping our son all the time. Is that an approach we should take? Please help me.

  11. Surrogate grandma March 2, 2015 at 7:33 pm #

    I have taken care of an 8 year old since she was 8 mo old. Many times, it’s been 24/7. I love her like she’s my own. Her mom lets me do whatever I want with her. Last month, my grandson moved close to me and I care for his 3 year old. When both spend the night, the 8 year old, whom I’ve always laid down with till she goes to sleep, will insist that the baby not sleep next to me. She will cry and tell me that I love the baby more than her. I tried to tell her that she loves her mom and she loves me, she can love us both. She said, “No, I love you more.” She has repeatedly told me that she wants me to adopt her. On one occasion, the baby called me mom grandma, response was “You are my mom.” I said, “If I’m your mom, who is your mother?” She said, “She’s my aunt.” I’ve always done many things with her like taking her to local playgrounds and attractions, trips etc. Her mother says she never has time. We invited her to go to a local attraction last week, giving her 2 hours notice and her response was, “I haven’t had my shower.” This has happened so many times over the 8 years, so we just go ahead and do our thing. I think this causes 8 year old to be jealous.
    Surrogate grandma recently posted…Violent Children: What if Your Child Hits You?My Profile

  12. Ms. Collins April 17, 2015 at 10:35 pm #

    I have been married to a wonderful man since November 2013. My daughter is 12 and prior to that it has only been she and I. In the beginning her and my husband had a really good relationship and got along really well. She has always been a little disrespectful taking back, acting out in school and I must admit, I did spoil her being that she was my only child and it was just she and I for a long time. We have now since moved to another State and she is still being disrespectful, she doesn’t have do her chores and basically wants to do what she wants to do when she wants. I try to discipline her and take things from her. I don’t buy her anything other than what she needs. I have spoken with her and so has my husband on numerous occasion, letting her know how much we love her and we just want the best for her, we want her to excel, be respectful and do well in school. To say the least that has not worked. My husband is to the point to where he is frustrated and just tired of dealing with it and says, I just let her get away with murder and how she should have chores and help around the house. I have to agree with him but I feel as if what I am doing is right but maybe I am sugar coating this. I just need some help and need some direction on what to do. I feel that my marriage is going to end if I don’t get a hold of this situation. I love my daughter and only want what is best for her. I can’t understand why for the life of me, she can’t get it through her head that if she only complied with the rules at home and at school, her life would be so much better. What have I done that is so wrong as a parent. I want my daughter and I want my marriage to last. I will wait patiently for any advice you have to give. Thank you so much.

  13. Lee April 30, 2015 at 6:43 pm #

    I have a 4 month old son and trying to find a way to deal with my 8 year old neice who is extremely jealous and hostile towards him. She is an only child with a host of developmental issues and severe social anxiety. She doesn’t interact with children at all, prefers to be with adults and is the center of the universe at my in laws/her grandparents house. A new baby cousin is an enormous change for her which we understand is going to involve a long difficult period of adjustment. In the mean time she says mean things like she doesn’t love him, she hates him, refuses to interact with him in any way, and many other mean comments. She gets upset and even hits when other family members hold and play with him. When this is happening the only attempt to correct her has been to gently day that isn’t nice. Her behavior hasn’t improved and if it doesn’t I fear we won’t be able to have her around him when he starts to understand words. I expressed this In an email to my sister in law and she didn’t acknowledge it at all. I don’t know if there is anything I can do when I witness this that wouldn’t be crossing parental boundaries and keep the peace! It seems nobody in the family wants to acknowledge this is a huge issue!

  14. Tiffany May 11, 2015 at 6:49 pm #

    I’m having problems with my four year old daughter. I’m a single parent and I work a lot to make ends meet. So my daughter is with my brother and his family while I’m working. My niece(my brother’s daughter) is three years old and for the past year my daughter has told everyone no one loves me. We only love my niece, but she only does this when we praise my niece for something or if she is getting a little attention. I’m really concerned because I’m going to sign them up for cheerleading and my niece is familiar with other girls on the team and my daughter tell my niece things like if you don’t play with me I’m not going to be your cousin anymore. Now my family and I try to support and praise the girls in everything but the things my daughter says is very scary and I’m trying to figure out what to do? Is this a phase and will she grow out of it or is it deeper than that?

  15. DJinnyf July 1, 2015 at 8:07 pm #

    “I believe a child feels jealous only if his parents don’t pay sufficient attention to him.”

    (enough according to him, because this is about his feelings).

    It would be a good idea to link those sentences from the start, cause the first one is really hard to read without rage when your daughter has wanted you to herself every minute, night or day for herself….

    I can remember, at the hospital the nurses were always saying “oh, you’re still holding her?!” Cause she was constantly crying when not on me. She didn’t sleep for 11 months. She had to be taken care of all the time, she couldn’t stand fences, either, without crying or screaming.

    As she grew up I worked on ger strenghts, went tough love, emotional talking about her feelibgs, trying to get her to see the positive, be grateful for so many things she has, material, familial, her skills and friends…. She just spent a semester with a social worker to strenghten her self confidence and soften her performance anxiety….

    She is 10 years old and still struggling a lot with this. At this point, I believe it’s a matter of temper.

    I can control her behaviours, but my heart is broken to think that she slways feels like she’s the unlucky one….

    Let’s say that reading this article, except for the “(enough according to him, because this is about his feelings)” didn’t help me today.

    Giving more attention to a kid who has a perception problem torwards what she -or he- is already getting, I believe, is accentuating the problem: the more I give her, the more dhe wants! Tickling, hugging, material, time, special tv shows, anything.

    Yet, all thst works is telling her I understand her, but NOT aknowledging it as a fact. I understand that you are upset your brother is back from camping, but it’s not true that him getting a part of me makes him the favorite and makes you left out. He’ll like to hear your stories as much as we enjoy hearring his….

    I just wish it would stop making her feel sad and anxious.

    But the part where you say that loving your kids equally is only a notion traumatizes me to no ends!!!!

    I love both my kids just as much and i don’t treat them equal in every situation, but I sur treat them equal all together!!!! I can never understand people who don’t!!!

    I was raised with 5 siblings from two different fathers, and I never, ever had the feeling that there was a favorite to any parent!! Not as a child and not now. And none of us believes that. And this, despite the fact that my two younger brothers were brought up a different way than us 4 first ones…. The love and care always was perceived as equal.

    The time, financial aid or help with our own kids were never the same, cause we were respected as individuals and we also respected my parents interests and capacities to help.

    To me, this is just pretty hard to understand concept (a favorite child).

    Anyway, good luck with all your children, hope my input has helped anybody.

  16. Layal August 22, 2015 at 3:44 am #

    I like your point of view about jealousy snd the need of more attention. I think I’m guilty of making this mistake with my eight year old daughter. I will try your advice but i have a question. Do you think my daughter doesn’t get along with her friends because of she is not getting enough attention from me? She always nags about being the unwanted one and i thought she was being bullied but I noticed that she was being over sensitive and always jealous of everybody.


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