For those of you with more than one child, how many times have you heard, “MOMMY, that’s not fair! He got to choose last time…it’s my turn!” or “DADDY, She got a new (insert object of choice), how come I don’t get one?”
Siblings naturally cannot help themselves from comparing what they have to their brother or sister. This is a common part of sibling rivalry, especially early on when it comes to toys or other objects. These feelings arise also as children begin in situations when they naturally compare themselves to peers, especially at school age and into high school. Therefore, learning how to navigate these strong emotions will be helpful, especially when tackled at a younger age. It will provide the children a set of coping strategies to use in those times when the “green monster” comes out. When kids get hung up on the treasure of others, it often comes from craving attention of parents, teachers and peers. The book points out that children may feel that their identity is based on having the most prized possession of the moment or getting recognition from others. The key to handling the negative emotions of envy and jealousy is to teach children to handle these emotions and roll with it.
If you need to support and coach your children through dealing with the green monster, check out “What to Do When It’s Not Fair: A Kid’s Guide to Handling Envy and Jealousy” by Jacqueline B. Toner, PhD and Claire A.B. Freehand, PhD.
This particular book is a wonderful workbook that parents can use with their child to think through and work through those strong emotions. It is part of a series that I use often called, “What-to-Do Guides for Kids” published by Magination Press.
This book is set on the high seas and your child imagines he/she is a pirate! The book includes a two-page spread introduction to parents and caregivers with handy tips to set the context and understand the purpose of using the book. It provides reminders for parents to ROLE MODEL expressing gratitude for things we have, forgiving and forgetting and being generous with others.
I especially love the analogy of “putting down the spyglass” and the exercises that follow in chapter two. It teaches kids to think about things that are right under their nose that they otherwise may miss because they are so focused on looking out at a distance at others. Kids learn to ask themselves if they are being too much of a pirate and focusing in too much on something they want rather than noticing what things are important.” Kids work on making their own spyglass and then working through what they focused on seeing and what they missed seeing as a result of using the spyglass.
The key with any of these workbooks is to read through and talk with your children about the contents. Sending your child to read it on their own and not circling back around to debrief and talk about it will miss the important step of parents providing the support, sensitivity and coaching kids crave from them. Don’t miss out on this! Finding a quiet and relaxed time to work through a chapter on the weekend or right before bedtime may be best.
The book goes on to teach children how to steer their ship and then ends with wonderful illustrated step by step guides on stretching, deep breathing and quiet mind exercises from yoga and mindfulness. These skills are wonderful to use as a family to reinforce the fact that everyone can benefit from these exercises!
The book is best used for children ages 8 to 12 and available at the link below. Happy sailing!
RELATED: 12 Tips for Teaching Children Gratitude (HealthyChildren.org)