April 11, 2022

Ask Amy: Helping Kids Deal With Comparison and Envy

When kids reach school age they become aware of what others might think. Social comparison with peers comes into play– and when another kid gets “student of the week” or a T-ball grand slam or any benchmark of childhood achievement, so can jealousy.

Ever have a kid with a long face in the back seat at school pickup because they were NOT chosen as "Student of the Week"? A listener emailed us to ask:

How do you help your kid work through comparison and envy? My child is in 3rd grade and experiencing many emotions around "unfairness" and jealousy. Not so much about material things, like "this kid has X and I don't." More like "this kid is the teacher's pet and gets (or appears to get) special privileges that I don't."

No surprise, my child is an aspiring teacher's pet, but doesn't perceive that they're getting the same attention and/or opportunities.

I don't think it's something I should address at school. It's not that anyone is doing something wrong. More of a "life isn't always fair" lesson that's creating big 3rd-grade emotions.

We can't smooth every negative emotion from our children's experiences, and we shouldn't even try. If our kids have to move through the very human emotions of jealousy and frustration, they'll develop the resilience that we want them to possess as they grow towards independence.

In this episode Amy discusses some strategies for helping kids deal with comparison and envy. When we teach them to self-compare, applaud their personal progress, and highlight their own pride in their achievements (rather than our own), we teach them that satisfaction can come less from being *the* best than by being our own best.

In this episode, Amy refers to this resource from Big Life Journal: How to Help Children Stop Comparing Themselves to Others

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