Teens, Here’s How to Stop Being Jealous and Feel Far More Secure

Why your teen may be feeling jealous and how to help them identify and manage the complex emotion

by Nancy Reynolds

This Post: Teens, Here’s How to Stop Being Jealous and Feel Far More Secure

Does your son or daughter have a tendency to get jealous of others? Or, have they felt the wrath of another teen who’s been jealous of them? 

Maybe your daughter is jealous of her friend’s good grades and achievements or she’s resentful because she feels her friend is prettier, skinnier, or more talented than she is. 

Maybe your son feels jealous of a teammate who’s better on the field than he is or he’s jealous that a friend of his “gets all the dates.”

Or perhaps your son or daughter has a friend whose jealousy gets the best of them from time to time.

Sound familiar?

Well… it turns out jealousy among teenagers is a whole lot more common than you might think. 

Teen Jealousy Statistics

  • According to the American Psychological Association, approximately 50% of teenagers reported experiencing jealousy in friendships.
  • Research also shows that girls tend to experience jealousy more frequently in friendships and romantic relationships, while boys tend to be more jealous in competitive situations.
  • It’s been found that jealousy can impact mental health. Persistent jealousy during a child’s teen years has been linked to increased levels of anxiety, depression, and low self-esteem. Extreme jealousy can also make it difficult for teenagers to form trusting relationships.

Whether it’s envy of a friend’s achievements or looks, resentment about a sibling’s success, or insecurity involving a boyfriend or girlfriend, jealousy is a complex emotion – one that most teens have a hard time identifying, understanding, and navigating. Can you help your teen to stop being jealous? Actually, with proper support and guidance, you can…

Teens, Here’s How to Stop Being Jealous and Feel Far More Secure


Why Do Teenagers Get Jealous?

Jealousy typically arises from a sense of insecurity or fear of losing something or someone important. For teenagers who are in the midst of forming their identity and who have heightened sensitivity to friend approval and validation, jealousy can be fairly intense. Here are some of the common triggers of teenage jealousy:

1. Yearning to Fit In

During our kids’ teen years, they’re figuring out who they are and who they want to be. They’re shimmying for position in the social hierarchy and, despite what your teen tells you, they DO care about fitting in (or, at the very least, not standing out like a sore thumb).

Their burning desire for acceptance, recognition, and validation often causes them to compare themselves to their friends in various areas of their lives including academics, physical appearance, popularity, and achievements. If there’s any major discrepancy (in their eyes) between them and their friends, it can trigger feelings of jealousy, especially if they feel inferior or inadequate in comparison.

2. Lack of Confidence in Physical Appearance or Abilities

Changes are happening so fast in our teen’s bodies it’s difficult for them to keep up. Add in the fact that some of those changes might feel awkward and unsettling (at least temporarily) and it’s no wonder teenagers can feel insecure and, in turn, jealous of others who they feel look better. 

There are countless reasons teens can become jealous… girls can feel insecure about other girls who they feel are prettier or who have clearer skin than they do, for instance. Boys, on the other hand, might get jealous of another boy who’s taller, more muscular or stronger, or who they feel is better looking or more talented in sports.

3. Shifts in Friendships

When you’re a teenager, fitting in and the fear of being excluded or rejected are REAL concerns.

If a teen’s close friend suddenly starts spending more time with someone else or starts bonding with a different group of kids, it can lead to feelings of insecurity about their social standing and trigger jealousy, especially if they feel they’re being replaced by someone else. 

4. Sibling Rivalry

A teen might feel jealous of their brother or sister’s accomplishments or perceived favoritism from parents.

Competition for parental attention and love can exacerbate the feelings, especially if they perceive themselves as less valued or loved than their sibling.

5. Social Media Comparison

There’s no question that social media plays a huge role in triggering jealousy in teens. (Heck, social media can make mature adults feel jealous of others!) They might be scrolling and see a group of teens having fun when they’re at home on a Friday night. Or, they might see a friend or classmate on a date and feel insecure because they’re single.

Teens frequently compare their own lives to the curated (and often embellished) portrayal of other’s lives. Simply seeing posts about friends’ vacations, achievements, or relationships can trigger jealousy and feelings of inadequacy.

6. Rocky Romantic Relationships

Maybe they feel threatened by the attention their boyfriend or girlfriend is giving to someone else. Maybe their relationship is struggling and they’re worried about a breakup. Or, perhaps they’re comparing themselves unfavorably to someone (who in their eyes) is a romantic rival. 

It doesn’t help that teens are inexperienced in managing their emotions and being involved in deeper relationships.

7. Low Self-Esteem

When you suffer from low self-esteem, it can be awfully hard to stop being jealous. 

Whether they feel they don’t measure up in looks, popularity, talent, academics, or any other area of their life, if a teen feels poorly about themselves, they’re more likely to feel the ping of insecurity and jealousy, at times. 

8. Immaturity

Our kids are young. They have a lot of growing up and maturing to do. And, they haven’t quite grasped the art of managing their emotions. As such, it’s easy for their “feelings of insecurity” to take hold and manifest as jealous behavior toward others.

How to Help Your Teen Deal with Their Jealousy

If your teen experiences feelings of jealousy, it’s important to face those feelings head-on and help them navigate their jealousy constructively so they don’t end up sabotaging relationships both now and in the future.

Jealousy gone awry can turn toxic with some teens turning to suspicion, bullying, snooping on their friend(s), boyfriend, or girlfriend, checking other’s phone messages, or even trying to control someone else’s behavior. 

8 Healthy Ways for Teens to Manage Jealousy:

1. Encourage Self-Awareness and Reflection

Sit down with your son or daughter and help them recognize their emotions and understand the root cause. Encourage them to ask themselves “WHY” they feel jealous and what underlying insecurities or fears may be contributing to their feelings.

2. Lay the Groundwork for Open Communication

Create an open, supportive, non-judgmental, and loving environment where your teen feels comfortable and secure coming to you with their innermost thoughts, feelings, and insecurities.

When they’re in the mood to talk, stop what you’re doing and listen. Let them do most of the talking before you jump in to “fix” the situation. 

3. Help Them Understand That Everyone Feels Insecure At Times

That girl your daughter is jealous of because she’s a straight “A” student might feel terribly insecure that she’ll let herself, her teachers, or her parents down. The guy that your son is jealous of because he scores the most goals may have no idea that the boy practices five hours a day because he’s so fearful of letting the team down or embarrassing himself. 

Teach your teen to be empathetic of other kids – even the ones who seem to have it all figured out. By helping them understand that every human being feels insecure and/or jealous at times, it can help reduce the intensity of their jealousy. 

4. Develop Healthy Coping Mechanisms

Being jealous can take up a ton of time and space in your mind. In fact, it can be downright exhausting. Help your teen cope with their feelings of jealousy by walking away, spending a moment writing down their feelings, reflecting on why they feel jealous, talking to a parent or trusted friend, or creating a distraction like listening to music. Above all, teach them to respond maturely and avoid allowing their jealousy to negatively impact how they treat someone. 

5. Focus On Their OWN Unique Gifts, Strengths and Achievements

Rather than constantly comparing themselves to others, encourage your son or daughter to focus on themselves – their strengths, gifts, and wins! They’ve come SO far and worked SO hard. Make sure they recognize that so they can shift their focus away from everyone else.

6. Avoid Triggering Situations

While complete avoidance may not be possible, encourage your son or daughter to steer clear (when possible) of people or situations that trigger insecure feelings.

Whether it’s cutting back on the amount of time they spend scrolling social media or avoiding a person who brings out the “ugly green monster” in them, help them identify when they need to take a break and focus on activities that instead boost their self-esteem.

7. Put a New Spin On It

Because insecurity lies at the root of jealousy, your teen’s feelings of inadequacy could serve as a launchpad for positive change.

If your son is jealous of his friend because he’s smarter in school, it might be time for your son to put forth more effort to raise his grades so he feels better about himself. If your daughter is constantly eyeing another girl in school because she always looks put together, it might be time for your daughter to get up a little earlier so she leaves the house feeling good about herself. Notice I said himself and herself – it’s about doing things that build THEIR self-esteem, not competing with anyone else. 

8. Work on the Root of the Problem: Build Self-Confidence

Ask your teen, “What would make you feel really good about yourself?” THEN, set goals and strive to attain them. Even small tweaks in their life can equate to big changes in their self-esteem. 

Whether it’s finding a new hobby, joining a cool club, trying out for a team, volunteering, focusing on improving their grades, or working on their physical health and strength, help your teen find their “why” – the thing that motivates them to get out of bed in the morning. 


Final Thoughts

Sure, you can help your teen stop being jealous, but it will likely take time, patience, and growing up on their part. For now, it’s more about accepting that jealousy is normal, helping them challenge and constructively channel their negative thoughts, practicing awareness to help reduce its pull, and teaching them to “JUST DO YOU.”

As parents, we can empower our kids to stop being jealous so they build strong, meaningful, and trusting relationships by listening, giving them the freedom to open their hearts to us, and finding ways to help them focus less on others and more on themselves to build confidence. 

If you enjoyed reading, “Teens, Here’s How to Stop Being Jealous and Feel Far More Secure” here are a few other posts you might like!

Dear Teens: I Know it’s Hard, But Not All Friendships are Meant to Last

10 Things I Want My Teenage Son to Know About Life, Love and Friendship

12 Things I Want My Teen Daughter to Know About Friendship

Share your thoughts in the comments section below! How are you helping your teen to stop being jealous? 

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