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Teen Talk - Teens and Jealousy

Teen Talk
Posted at 11:01 AM, Oct 27, 2014
and last updated 2014-10-27 07:10:57-04

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WTXL) - This week's "Teen Talk" is focused on advice for parents when it comes to teens who may be experiencing jealousy.

WTXL contributor and family therapist Jane Marks:

Jealousy is an emotion that often crops up in the adolescent years. In some ways it is quite common. Girls are more likely to experience this emotion than boys. Some researchers believe it is because girls have higher expectations in relationships and care more about what other people are doing, saying or often times even wearing. That being said, if situations that appear to be surrounded by jealousy continue to crop up, it does require that parents address several issues.

1. We start by having a meaningful conversation. This is a tough concept to discuss openly, but first, parents, by all means, make sure your child is willing to talk about it and do not be confrontational.

2. Share your own personal experiences with jealousy. This helps your youngster feel like he is not the only person that has walked this very awkward experience and may give them permission to talk more openly about it.

3. Remind your teen that jealousy is a very normal feeling that often occurs and that part of what they are going through is a passage that happens often as they navigate the adolescent years. Teach your teen to use these feelings to motivate herself. For example, if your teen is jealous because her friend excels in a sport, get her to hyper focus on that and get them to improve their skills in that.

4. Work on self reflection. Encourage your daughter to open up by asking open ended questions; what is it about the situation that makes you upset? This is part of getting to the source of the problem.

5. Help your teen try and get to the source or the cause of the jealousy in a specific experience. Is this an issue with regards to envy or possessions that another person has? Is it an issue of personal image or is your teen feeling lonely or isolated? Is this a response to a bullying experience? All of these need to be evaluated.

6. Sometimes it is important to confront the issue head on. Sometimes if you talk to a person directly what you can disarm yourself of the very negative feelings you have and what you may find is that you completely misinterpreted a particular situation.

7. To avoid jealousy in the future, be clear about the kind of behavior you model as a parent, this includes modeling smart reactions; when you are seeing jealousy or feeling it, say, you know sometimes I get caught up in that as well. If you experience envy and jealousy, you need to be very careful about what you present to your youngsters because they watch you very closely.

8. Make sure that when you are interacting with your daughter that you focus on self confidence. Too often girls believe that boys or situations define who they are. Remember, boys do not define you, nor do clothes or other situations. So you want to up the self confidence quotient in your child. Remember that boys should not be the only passion or interest in their lives. This experience is just fruitful for jealousy.

9. Teach the importance, value and richness of same sex peers. Often times I will hear mothers say, "you know girls can be very catty or very emotional" but the precious memories that you can make with girlfriends are ones that will be lifelong. Remember to discuss the rewards of girlfriend friendships.

10. If fitting in remains a problem and there appears to be a depression associated with it, make sure you call and confirm some time with a mental health professional.

Watch Teen Talk every other Monday at 6:30am on WTXL's Sunrise.