Childish jealousy, things you should know

Childish jealousy, things you should know

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All children at some time or another are jealous, whether of their siblings, family or friends. And is that jealousy is an adaptive and transient reaction of the child to a situation. It is an emotional and behavioral alteration in response to an imbalance in the family emotional dynamics that existed until that moment. Most of the time it is due to the birth of a new brother in the family.


  • 1 Jealousy or envy? Two different feelings
  • 2 The jealous boy
  • 3 How does the child show jealousy?
  • 4 Curiosities about children's jealousy

Jealousy or envy? Two different feelings

Sometimes we can confuse jealousy with envy, but between them there is a fundamental difference that is the exposure to the object of desire. In a nutshell, you are jealous when you want something that has been previously owned but now it has been partially or totally lost; while Envy refers to wishing for something that has never been possessed and it is also difficult for the envious subject to possess.

Another difference lies in the existence of affection. The jealousy they have an intrinsic affective component that does not appear so accentuated in envy or the like. To get to feel jealousy previously one must receive affection, which moves the subject to recover the lost object, while the envied object is an idealized object that has unattainable qualities, so that the object itself and the image are not sought idealized of it.

The jealous boy

The first thing to know is that a jealous child is a stressed child. Jealousy make emotions appear that range from anxiety, to restlessness and anguish, which only disappear when the opponent is removed and the desired person is approached. They can adopt a position of isolation and withdrawal, or on the contrary show unwanted behaviors as a wake-up call to their immediate environment, even in the form of "punishment."

When facing the changes and events that occur in the immediate family environment, the child's temperament is essential. Children with introverted humor tend to increase this introversion, may develop sleep problems and dependence after the birth of a sibling, and therefore may not show affection for the baby.

When it comes to more outgoing and expansive children, they can reluctantly tolerate the inevitable delays that occur when having to take care of the baby. They are children who tend to accentuate their low tolerance for frustration, claiming their parents' attention through tantrums or other manifestations.

The degree of attachment of the child to his parents and, especially with the mother, also determines the child's response to the birth of the brother.

In families where there is a high level of confrontation between the mother and the child before the baby is born, through frequent prohibitions and limitations, there is an increase in the probability that the child will show irritability and poor behavior, causing An increase in conflict.

How does the child show jealousy?

There is no celotypic behavior Exactly, each child shows it in their own way. So how do we know if we are really holding back to a real reaction of jealousy? What are the behaviors or attitudes that indicate their presence?

It is difficult to generalize, but the indicators that we offer below are usually the most common.

  1. Regression: appear and behaviors of evolutionary stages already passed. They are reactions that aim to regain affection and lost attention. Here are behaviors such as nighttime urination, desire to be cradled, etc.
  2. Increase in disobedience and opposition: It is not strange that the jealous child draws his emotional tension through rebellious behaviors as a wake-up call to his parents.
  3. Indifference: Another behavior that may appear is indifference. The child seems disinterested in everything that surrounds him, apathetic, clueless and bored, as if absorbed in his world.
  4. Somatizations: the tension you suffer can lead you to develop different psychosomatic symptoms, such as a tummy ache, an undefined malaise, a headache, etc. These somatizations are intended to capture the attention of parents and it is very effective because it easily attracts their concern.
  5. Aggressive behavior: This is perhaps the most visible and recognized feature of children's jealousy, it is typical of children with low tolerance for frustration, lack of self-control or inefficiency in the solution of emotional conflicts. They are somewhat more dangerous because they can direct their anger towards the brother by unloading their jealousy in the form of blows, insults or other types of aggressions.

Curiosities about children's jealousy

Apparently there is a very important cultural component in the appearance of jealousy or other related affections, as well as how to deal with them. For example, it is known that Anglo-American brothers have more rivalry than Mexicans, a trend that is accentuated with age. and there are intracultural characteristics that can minimize or accentuate both jealousy and envy.

Childish jealousy is not a strange phenomenon in our culture, because the conditions in our society are such that the existence of the child is not always the happy, carefree and protected that it is supposed to be.

A curious case is that which occurs in Bali. On this island when the family has only one child, the parents borrow a child from another family to encourage the “dethronement” of the only child, as if he were an older child.


Children's jealousy is part of the learning that every child performs in order to develop coexistence skills with others.

We must differentiate jealousy from other habitual feelings associated with loss such as envy, rivalry or grief. Each of them has its characteristics that make them "branches of the same tree."

The positive education of children is essential and must be based on respect for the individuality of each person. Sometimes, promoting equality between siblings can be a greater source of jealousy instead of the opposite, we must respect each one as he is, with their differences.

Visit our article on how to handle children's jealousy

It may interest you: Siblings phrases


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