The Richmond Register

Lifestyles & Community

December 17, 2013

The gift of jealousy for the holidays

RICHMOND — The excitement becomes palatable as the children head up to their bedrooms waiting for Christmas morning to arrive. Presents can already be seen under the Christmas tree with the promise of more arriving with Santa Claus during the night.

As the morning breaks, children clamor out of their beds and wake their parents to get started unwrapping all of their presents.

For parents, Christmas morning can be a true reward for all of the hard work that goes into the holiday season. There is nothing quite like the look on a young child’s face when she gets the present she has been asking for every night for the past month. On the other hand, the situation can bring out the worst in children, particularly between siblings.

Jealousy often rears its ugly head and spoils a family’s Christmas morning.

Everyone who has grown up with siblings can remember a time when a brother or sister got a present that was somehow better than what you received. Sometimes it is getting fewer presents and other times it is receiving presents that are less desirable than a brother’s or sister’s. This can lead children to pout, be irritable or mopey. They may even try to take matters into their own hands and get their sibling’s present for themselves.

While not a desirable part of the holidays, jealousy is a natural part of growing up and plays a major role in sibling rivalry. The receiving of gifts taps into an area of jealous that revolves around fairness and equality.

Children strongly identify with these issues and they can get very upset when they sense there is a violation. The issue of fairness and equality between siblings can start as early as age 2 and continue through adolescence.

While parents know that the world is not a fair place, it can be difficult for children to understand. Rather than punishing children for reacting jealously to a sibling’s present, use the opportunity as a teaching moment. Acknowledge how the child is feeling and how it is OK to feel that way. However, stress that dwelling on the jealousy will only make the child feel badly while the rest of the family is enjoying being with one another and appreciating the gifts that they have given and received.

There are steps parents can take to prevent gift jealousy from occurring. One way is to have each child make a specific wish list and to prioritize what gifts are most wanted. When the child has to prioritize, it helps her to really think about whether something is really desired or merely wanted because a sibling wants a similar item.

Once the wish list has been made and prioritized, it can be shared with the rest of the family. Parents can then have each child go shopping and help select a present for a sibling. This allows the child to feel invested in the act of giving and takes some of the emphasis from receiving gifts. 

Christmas is a joyful occasion but don’t be surprised if jealousy crashes the holiday. Use the moment to teach a child how to cope with disappointment and how to overcome it and enjoy the rest of holiday.

Dan Florell, Ph.D., is an assistant professor at Eastern Kentucky University and has a private practice, MindPsi (www.mindpsi.net). Praveena Salins, M.D., is a pediatrician at Madison Pediatric Associates (www.madisonpeds.com).

1
Text Only
Lifestyles & Community
  • Bee on the lookout as beekeepers convene

    Summer vacation season is in full swing, and I had the pleasure of spending the last week and a half filling in at the Farm Store while the store manager, Bethany Pratt, got a welcome respite soaking up the beauty of Ireland.

    July 30, 2014

  • Amanda-Sears-c.jpg Cicada-killer wasps are here

    The extension office has received numerous phone calls over the past couple of weeks about large wasps hovering in yards all over the county.
    This insect is called the cicada killer, and despite its aggressive name, it is not something to be scared of.

    July 29, 2014 1 Photo

  • Brandon-Sears-c.jpg Converting from year-round calving to a controlled breeding season

    Maintaining a controlled breeding and calving season can be one of the most important management tools for cow-calf producers.
    Uniform, heavier and more valuable calves are key reasons to keep the breeding season short.

    July 29, 2014 1 Photo

  • 7-29 Nostalgia-Glenmore.jpg Paper boys learned life, business lessons

    I often flash back to the days from the mid to late 1930s when I was a paper boy.
    There were 10 or 12 of us who rolled out of bed at 5 a.m. every day, jumped on our bicycles and headed downtown to the Glyndon Hotel and picked up our papers for delivery.

    July 28, 2014 1 Photo

  • Dick-Ham.jpg Here’s why teachers aren’t paid enough

    The following were included in last year’s exams and were answered by 16-year-old high school students. The answers are genuine, and we must remember that these youngsters will grow up to vote, marry and become parents. It’s a scary thought.

    July 28, 2014 1 Photo

  • 7-24 4-H Entries 1.jpg 4-H exhibits are family affair for the Houstons

    Five children from the same family were the first to bring their 4-H exhibits Wednesday to the Madison County Fairgrounds.

    July 24, 2014 5 Photos

  • 7-22 Band Camp 1.jpg Band students ‛take over’ MCHS campus

    The Madison Central High School campus has been “taken over” for two weeks by 170 students attending band camp.

    July 21, 2014 6 Photos

  • Dr-Jack-Rutherford.jpg Warning labels needed on energy drinks

    The popularity of energy drinks has soared since they entered the marketplace, but at least one consumer group wants the FDA to order warnings on product labels.

    July 18, 2014 1 Photo

  • Donna-Moberly.jpg Full Gospel ‛Back to School Bash’ is Aug. 2

    Hello everyone.
    I guess everyone is asking, “How much rain did we get?”

    July 17, 2014 1 Photo

  • Katie-Rollins.jpg Thank the Lord for the rain

    Hello readers, it’s a stormy Monday evening as I write this, and I’ve been thanking the Lord all day for the good rain – over an inch in the gauge now, and it looks like more before morning.

    July 17, 2014 1 Photo