My daughter is 14 years old and I understand that she is very jealous of her best friend. Although she seeks her company on a daily basis, she often complains to me about what her friend has and she does not, or compares herself to her and then feels bad and suffers.
How can I help her? Thank you in advance.
Jealousy, like fear, is considered a negative emotion, but it exists within each of us and manifests itself when there is the right stimulus. In fact, often when one feels overwhelmed by them, one is almost automatically overwhelmed by other unpleasant emotions such as shame or guilt.
This is because from an early age most of us learn that jealousy is a bad thing and we try to banish or suppress that feeling, instead of noticing it and trying to figure out what is causing it. However, jealousy can also have its positive side. If one can understand it, perhaps one can more easily understand what one wants in life.
It is a positive thing that your daughter expresses her jealousy for her friend, because this will probably allow you to understand what else may be hidden behind this feeling – because many times behind jealousy there can be insecurity or fear or even a strong feeling of personal inadequacy.
This means that jealousy for her friend may be related to the image she has of herself, to what she thinks others think of her. Negative self-image often leads to giving up what one may desire and to jealousy for what others have. For a teenager, this may have to do with appearance, grades at school, and even social media likes.
The best way to help her is to talk to her and motivate her to accept that she is jealous. It is important to understand that it is more useful to understand an emotion than to reject it. Even if this feeling sometimes leads us to behave in a way that we are not proud of, it is not an irreversible behavior. Emphasize that we may find it difficult to control our emotions, but it is easier to control the way we behave.
You can talk to her about the times when you at her age felt jealous, about the mistakes you made but also about the ways you handled it. Share stories from your own adolescence with her. This way you will get closer to her and help her understand that she should not be ashamed of what she is feeling and that you are able to understand her.
Listen to her carefully as she speaks to you and help her with the right questions to understand what may be behind her jealousy. For example, does she feel that way because she thinks she can't do as well at school as her friend? And if so, what does she think is holding her back? And how could she overcome this difficulty?
Try to help her gain self-esteem. Emphasize her positive points, reinforce every effort she makes, whatever the result. Each time you reward her, explain to her exactly what you liked about her behavior and why. Do the same for the behavior of other children.
Finally, explain to her that no matter how perfect someone looks, she actually has her own insecurities, her own sense of inadequacy. What matters is that we understand all this and improve day by day.
Stavroula Tsoutsa is a Certified Holistic Professional and Life Coach, Certified Heartmath Coach/Mentor, and Certified Points of You practitioner.