Concerning Kids – Sibling rivalry and jealousy


Christian Life

Anna Gnatyshyna, CNE.news

"Empathy and sincere joy for others are often taught in deep conversations and in a loving environment." Photo EPA, Clemens Bilan

Christmas season is over, and so are packing and giving gifts. It is a joyful quest to shop for presents for friends and family. However, if you have several kids in a family, that might be challenging.

I remember my mom always trying to give us the same presents in value and size, as we (three kids) would always compare the presents. Moreover, in my early childhood, mom gave all three kids presents, even when we celebrated somebody’s birthday. Therefore, I would also get a present at my brother’s birthday party. When we got older, she explained that we were not little anymore so that every kid would get a present only on his birthday.

Sibling rivalry and jealousy are often present, especially during holidays or special occasions. Parents and teachers must understand, address, and constructively navigate these emotions as children express their desires for the same gifts and fight for equality in every aspect.

Jealousy is a natural part of growing up. As kids develop their identities and preferences, they often look to their siblings or friends as benchmarks for their aspirations. When one child desires a particular toy or gift, it’s not uncommon for their siblings to develop a similar wish. Kids desire fairness and equality.

At the Children’s Club that I run, I give small gifts to those who have birthdays. Often, after the end of the program, I have to talk to a crying child about why she did not get a toy or candy. There is a huge need to address jealousy, and I work to create a safe space where kids can feel comfortable expressing their feelings, as I also openly address their feelings and desires.

I discovered a powerful antidote to jealousy, which is empathy. That requires a good effort in explaining to kids why somebody was treated in a special way and got a special gift. At the same time, I often emphasise that the value of a present isn’t solely determined by its material worth but by the thought and love behind it. I teach kids to appreciate the joy of giving and receiving, not merely comparing gifts and jumping to conclusions.

When I have to celebrate one kid in the presence of others, I make sure that I have some element of the program that involves all the children. Those shared experiences helped me reinforce the idea that everyone is loved at the Children’s Club, and they are an integral part of our community.

Nevertheless, I often have crying kids and sad ones who complain that it is unfair. I hug them and explain that gifts are a gesture of love and are not the sole measure of one’s worth or my love. The reassurance of my love comforts these little hearts while I invite them to celebrate their brother or friend. Empathy and sincere joy for others are often taught in deep conversations and in a loving environment.



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