Parenting K-6 Kids/Kindergarden and Jealousy
I received a note from my 5-year-old daughter's kindergarten teacher that indicates there is a jealousy issue at school. It said that my daughter is "preventing other children from reaching achievements" and "taking and hiding other children's things." Apparently my daughter is acting like she is just playing, but I think there must be a deeper insecurity going on.
She is 5, so I know some of this is normal developmental beahvior. But, at home she frequently claims things "aren't fair" and I often have to break up tug-of-war type fights with between her and her little sister (2.5). There is also a constant "her's is better" dialogue going on (better cup, better pencil, better chair, better cookie, etc.)
I've spoken with her about how she is treating her friends, and asked her to be nice to others. I have also tried helping her see how she is making the other children feel ... that it isn't a nice game.
I'm hoping you can give me some tips on how to figure out the core issue, so I can help her work through it. And also, how to better address the ongoing jealousy at home.
I hate the idea that she is so wrapped up in what other people have that she isn't enjoying what she has, or that she is working so hard to block other kids from achievements that she isn't achieving anything herself.
Also ... Christmas is coming up and I'd love to see her enjoy herself and not worry about what her sister has received.
I am all ears!
I don't understand what "preventing children from reaching their achievement means". Sort of a strange comment. Is she interrupting? Being loud? With that said, it's not unusual for children her age to be preoccupied with fairness or to steal, which is not to say you let it happen, but it's doesn't mean your child is going to be a bank robber. In terms of taking things, I'd suggest that she have a consequence and pay restitution (i.e. replace the item with her own money or work off the money etc).
You're not likely to win the "fair" issue. Children this age have difficulty understanding other people's views and how their behavior impacts others. They are impulsive and self-centered in that respect.
But you may have a self-esteem issue here, seen in the needing to be "better" or "first". One of the best ways to build self-esteem is through play. Spend 15 to 20 minutes everyday, playing an activity SHE chooses. This is not learning time and it's not watch her play. It's time in which you enter HER world. This makes her feel important, plus it can give you insight into how she experiences the world. She needs to play fair (I always say kids can change the rules, but the rules apply to both of you) and be respectful, but other than that, you let her lead the play. Also, NEVER take away this play time as a punishment or you'll be suggesting that your love has conditions. She gets this time no matter what, because she'd important. (You should do this for both children and it's done separately).
Don't underestimate the power of giving your time has in helping build self-esteem and even improving behavior.
Leslie Truex, MSW