Jealousy feels yucky and can make us do some pretty yucky things. Here's some tips to support tamariki with the yucky jealous feeling!
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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. Jealousy is also an emotion we don’t like to ‘own’ and tamariki who are feeling jealous might behave in destructive or unkind ways but blame all sorts of other things for their actions. So it’s worth playing detective!

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. This can be one way to discuss it with your class.

Inspire (and try)

In the moment

In the moment jealousy may look like ‘anger’, brooding or moody’ behaviour. So call a ‘chill time’ activity to help the class relax.

It might be best to approach the student discreetly and tell them they don’t seem themselves. Disappointment and jealousy are feelings that often go together. 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."

But then they may not want to talk at all and that’s okay! Just make sure they and others are safe if they are being aggressive or mean

It may be that there’s nothing more to do in the moment, but put some planning in place (see below).

When there's time

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 (even older kids love this AND it’s a great way to ‘externalise’ jealousy by discussing it as it affects Woody).

If you wanted to make it a focus you could also try ‘song’ – we love Sesame Street’s Feelings Song which helps tamariki understand how confusing jealousy can be. Older tamariki enjoy this too! The video will make them laugh but it’s a beautiful song and would make a great assembly performance!

As an activity -

  • Show theFeelings Song, then the 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.
  • Then Dave Mathews 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 (often tamariki aren’t familiar with the term, or it’s not ever talked about).

Talk through some of the ways to manage jealousy:

  • What can we tell ourselves when we feel jealous?
  • How do we know what we ‘think’ is the truth e.g. did your friends really go to the movies without you, or did they text your Mum and she forgot to tell you or hasn’t checked her phone?
  • Discuss why jealousy stops us being able to empathise, and why this may be problematic
  • Talk through the reasons jealousy exists – it can be a positive thing - it’s meant to highlight what we want, and can help to define our goals and drive our ambition
  • Consider a Feeling Good ‘notebook’ which each student could have and provide regular times for tamariki to reflect on their emotions and things they know can help. For jealousy this could include:
  • Communicating their feelings to someone who can listen well or to the person they are jealous of is a brave and great thing to do. (Discuss how we can do this positively — by taking responsibility for our own feelings and actions and using ‘I’ statements. This is a lifelong skill (!). Remember to say that these are brave conversations because they're tricky and while we're learning, we may require kaiako support.)

Sparklers activities to help

Encourage emotional literacy:

Teaching and practising calm down strategies

  • Taihoa! (add in some jealousy-causing scenarios!)

Building on tamariki strengths

Enquire (and notice)

It’s worth thinking about jealousy and whether it’s contributing to other behaviour in the classroom – e.g. meanness or bullying. Try some of the kindness activities to build classroom empathy and compassion.

Have a think about whether there’s a culture of competitiveness in the classroom or school – e.g. races, emphasis placed on tamariki who are the ‘best at’ subjects 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.

Plan (and reflect)

Some useful questions to ask:

  • What behaviour or feelings do I want to see? It could be tamariki having high self esteem, not comparing themselves to others, finding their passion, and/or having a deep sense of social responsibility and empathy..…
  • Can I find opportunities to foster and praise this behaviour?
  • What adjustments do I need to make? – to my feelings, actions and the environment.
  • What information can I provide whānau and how can I include them? Perhaps a take home piece about your classroom focus on Sparklers and emotions like these. As well as parent guides to help foster their children's gratitude, kindness, and self esteem.
  • Who can I talk to that’s got lots of experience (we all have our strengths)! What can I find online, to help my tamariki with this issue, or is there a group on Facebook who might be interested in exploring it? Keep being curious - as you are now!

Review (and follow up)

  • Support, strengthen and encourage the child’s strengths.
  • Acknowledge and celebrate any success (no matter how small).
  • Recognise the efforts and engagement of whānau.

We love the Positive Behaviour for Learning (PB4L) approach and encourage working in this creative and strengths-based way. We’ve adapted their ‘Encourage Positive Behaviours’ model for Sparklers. and recommend familiarising yourself with this and as your go-to for further analysis and as a matter of fantastic practice!

Encouraging positive behaviours via a classroom and whole school approach… how cool is that?!

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