Dear Ilana and Jess: My daughter Emily just turned 14, and she is constantly comparing herself to her peers. I expected that her self-esteem would take a hit as we entered the teenage years, but I didn’t expect this degree of jealousy. Emily is always stacking up the reasons why someone else has it better — it can be anything from their clothes, to a part in the school play, to their boyfriend. Emily feels very threatened by other people’s success, across the board. What can I do to curb the green monster? — Diane
Dear Diane: Jealousy is a network of ideas that all share the same root: the perception of inadequacy. It’s easy to wallow in self-pity: It’s a passive process that involves accessing the most readily available emotions and behaviors. The thoughts that accompany jealousy are weeds that must be pulled. But, the more you try to convince your daughter that there’s nothing to be jealous of, the more she’ll defend her position. To change Emily’s thinking, you have to move it in a different direction: gratitude.
Every day for two weeks, have Emily make a list of ten things she’s grateful for. They can be basic: health, shelter, etc. She’s not going to want to do it and she may even tell you that there’s nothing she’s grateful for. Keep in mind that Emily is well practiced in identifying what she doesn’t have. It’s going to take more effort for her to identify what she does have. Make sure the exercise is mandatory.
Next, have Emily practice being sincerely happy for others, even if it begins insincerely. Tell Emily to identify one reason why someone else’s accomplishment, milestone, or success is good and worthy of celebration. Do some perspective-taking and have Emily reflect on a time when she was congratulated for an achievement. This serves two functions. One, it will indirectly remind Emily that good things happen to her and two, it will help her humanize those she envies, by creating a way to relate to them.
Say This: “We’re going to shift your focus, starting now. Make a list of ten things you’re grateful for — it can be anything from your health to your talents and abilities. We’re going to do this every day for two weeks.”
Not That: “Oh, stop. You have everything going for you. There’s nothing to be jealous of!”
Say This, Not That is based on the work of Cognition Builders: a global, educational company headed by Ilana Kukoff (Founder & CEO) and Jessica Yuppa Huddy (Chief Learning Officer). Everywhere from New York City to California to Shanghai to Zurich, the Cognition Builders team is called upon by A-list entertainers, politicians, CEOs, and CFOs to resolve the conflicts that upend everyday life. When their work is done, the families they serve are stronger than ever. With their new book, Say This, Not That To Your Teenage Daughter Kukoff and Yuppa Huddy have selected the most common conversational mistakes parents make, and fixed them. For more information, please visit: https://cognitionbuilders.com. To purchase Say This, Not That To Your Teenage Daughter visit: http://publishing.andrewsmcmeel.com/books/detail?sku=9781449488055.
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