Jealousy feels yucky and can make us do some pretty yucky things. Here we explore how to support tamariki when jealousy rears its ugly head.
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A bit of background

We know we’re not supposed to identify emotions as ‘good’ or ‘bad’ – they’re all just emotions right? But it’s certainly tempting to stick a negative label on jealousy! Jealousy feels yucky and can make us do some pretty yucky things.

Here we explore how to tackle jealous outbursts, and how to teach tamariki to channel this emotion into positive action.

Inspire (and try)

In the moment
Jealousy can look a lot like spite or ‘anger’, prompting destructive or unkind behaviour. In the heat of the moment, you may opt to call a 'chill time' activity to help the class relax.

Play detective
If you suspect jealousy is at the heart of an issue, it might be best to approach the student discreetly and tell them they don’t seem themselves. Disappointment and jealousy often go hand in hand. You may get some traction with something like: “Sometimes we get disappointed when … happens, it’s natural to also feel jealous. I wonder if that is what it might feel for you."

If they don't want to talk...
Jealousy can be a hard feeling to 'own'. Tamariki may not want to talk and that’s okay! It may be that there’s nothing more to do in the moment, except to make sure they and others are safe – if they are being aggressive/mean – and to put some other planning in place (see below).

Enquire (and notice)

Exploring 'tricky' emotions like jealousy as a class can be easier than trying to address them one-on-one and thankfully, there are lots of cool ways to do this.

Use stories
Get some books that focus on jealousy out of the library. When I’m Feeling Jealous is great for younger students, or for older tamariki, try What To Do When it’s Not Fair. You could also try a movie such as Toy Story, as even older kids love this AND it’s a great way to ‘externalise’ jealousy by discussing how it affects Woody.

Try song
Sesame Street’s Feelings Song helps tamariki understand 'jealousy' as an emotion – and consider how confusing it can be. Older tamariki enjoy this too! The video will make them laugh but it’s a great song and would make a fun assembly performance.

  • Have a watch, then second time through, stop after Grover’s first feeling – mad and sad about not having his wish come true. Ask: what's the feeling? Disappointment.
  • Dave Mathews then says he’s jealous because he has a friend with a cape, and he’s proud of his friend but he wants to be a superhero too. Discuss the confusion that can come with feeling jealous. This exercise will help build students’ emotional literacy and get them thinking about jealousy as an emotion (something we seldom talked about).

Discuss jealousy as a class
Ask: What is jealousy? Are there any positive ways we can channel this feeling? Looking at this emotion constructively, it’s believed that the purpose of jealousy is to highlight what we want, and sometimes we can use it to help define our goals and drive our motivation. These are great seeds to sew when teaching tamariki to manage this emotion.

Feeling Good ‘notebooks'
Consider letting each student start a feel good notebook, and giving them regular times to reflect on their emotions, what's going well, and things they could do to tackle any challenges. For jealousy this might include goal setting, and communicating their feelings to someone they trust.

Plan (and reflect)

Consider whether there’s a culture of competitiveness in the classroom or school – e.g. races, try-outs, or emphasis placed on tamariki who are the ‘best at’ studies or sports.

To counter this, perhaps think about some of the VIA Strengths and give certificates or acknowledge strengths that are often overlooked, e.g. humility, perseverance, curiosity and fairness. For Sparklers strengths activities, head here.

Create opportunities where tamariki can support each other. You could try: Tangled, Loop-de-Loop, Can't Do it Without You, Intrepid Adventure and Up and Down.

We love the Positive Behaviour for Learning (PB4L) approach and suggest making their Encourage Positive Behaviours model your go-to, as a matter of fantastic practice. Encouraging positive behaviours via a classroom and whole school approach… how cool is that!

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