Practice them NOT to compare what they have with what others have.
This one is kind of tricky. When we want our kids to obey, we would sometimes say, “Look at all your classmates, they are doing this and that. Can you do that too?” or “Look at Josh, he just stays put and silent, can you keep quiet too?” At a very young age, we teach them how to blend. We tend to tell them to conform and copy what their friends are doing.
So how do we prevent them from comparing and eventually saying, “How come she gets a big doll and I don’t?
Well, we could always answer, “It doesn’t matter what you get, what’s important is you also have one”, just to get through it. But what if the other has an expensive toy that we couldn’t afford at all?
I think this is the root cause of why many adults keep on trying to be someone else or achieve what someone else has. We often get jealous of what other kids have when we were little.
My mom’s style was a bit different. When Tim Tam chocolates became very popular, she did a one-time purchase of it and let us have it to our hearts content. Her reason – so we won’t get envious if we see other kids eating it. She said, we could say to ourselves that we have tasted those and we ate lots of it at home. I think it worked. The only downside was, it instilled bad eating habits. Pigging out, binge eating, that effect.
So I guess the better way to prevent envy at an early age is to explain why we shouldn’t be envious.. and teach what we should value instead. We need to identify (and probably write down) the core values that we want our children to have. That way, these values can be their focus and not what others have.
I would like to quote Louis C.K. when he said,
The only time you look in your neighbor’s bowl is to make sure that they have enough. You don’t look in your neighbor’s bowl to see if you have as much as them.
I should probably post that on our fridge. A daily reminder for us adults too! LOL. And then we can explain that every family is different.
Here’s our script: “There are things we have and don’t have in our family. There are things we can buy and things we couldn’t. But that’s okay. Because what we have is enough. We have a place to sleep, we have food and water to drink, and we have faith and love to share. That’s what’s important.”
Our daughter might not completely understand all that but I intend to plant that idea on her head until the time comes that she’s mature enough to realize it.