Jealous Kids

By Joey & Carla Link
December 2, 2020

If there is one thing that can destroy the bond between brothers and sisters, it is jealously. Siblings may say they want each other to do well, but when one succeeds over the other it is quite a different story.

We have worked with many a family that had a child who used negative behavior to get attention from their parents. While the parents justifiably tried to drive the bad behavior out of their child through discipline, it often didn’t work to change this child’s behavior. The reason for this is because the issue was never their bad behavior, it was the jealously that lived in this child’s heart.

“A heart at peace gives life to the body, but envy rots the bones.
Proverbs 14:30;

Don’t you love how Proverbs puts things?! Envy (jealousy) rots the bones! That’s an ugly picture. Jealousy eats away at all that is good.

Ways parents can work with a jealous and envious child:

1.    Focus on who God made them to be. The primary reason kids get jealous is they are not sure of or are not confident in their own skills and talents. They don’t see themselves as who they are or can and should be, so they often view themselves through a sibling’s activities and success. They need to look at what God intended their life purpose to be and seek to fulfill it.

2.    Focus on their uniqueness. Psalms 139:14 tells us every child God created is “wonderfully made”. We like to think of kids (especially our three kids and 5 grandkids) as “unique and delightful”. Do your kids see themselves like this? If not, what can you do to help them see that their skills and talents are as special to you and God as their siblings’ skills and talents are? We are talking about creating a different perspective in their hearts and minds, not flooding them with false praise.

3.    Focus on you. Do you recognize when one of your children is struggling with jealousy? Even if you think it is unfounded, do you look for the root and try to understand what drives it? Do you elevate one child’s abilities over another? Do you encourage one child more than the others because his/her interests are the same as yours? Parents have a huge effect on how a child sees and views themselves.

4.    Focus on family unity and support. We worked hard at this with our kids. We all went to everyone’s activities and cheered each other on. When our son was attending college 90 miles away, he came back to watch his sisters play in their state band performances just as they had sat through his for many years. When we showed our surprise when he arrived, he looked at us and said it was a non-negotiable for him to be there. Cheering each other on is a big way to combat jealousy. Encourage competition amongst your children and you are throwing the seeds of jealousy into the foundation of your home.

5.    Focus on building a healthy family identity. Who are you as a family? What core values do you stand for? Do you have regular family nights doing something other than watching a movie? Do you help each other through tough times? Do you play together and pray together?

We know a lot of families who create a mission statement with goals of who they are and what God wants them to do collectively. This is a good unifying tool for families. When our kids were growing up they each put together a shoebox for Samaritan’s Purse to distribute in third world countries at Christmas. They earned the money to buy things for their box. It was a family project we worked together on for months. Doing family service projects was part of our mission statement.