When Your Child... Is Jealous of a Friend's Other Friend

2-min. video | Open Door for Parents with Dr. Eileen

(118 sec.) Video transcript at bottom of this email.

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It’s not easy to share a friend. Friendship threesomes are often challenging because one person feels left out. Here are some ideas of what does and doesn’t help when your child feels jealous of a friend’s other friend.

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Video Transcript

Hi! Welcome to Open Door for Parents where I share ways to support your child's feelings, friendships and mental health.

I'm Dr. Eileen.

When a friend has another friend, kids often feel very jealous. This is completely understandable, but how they deal with their jealousy can determine whether the friendship lasts.

One thing that definitely won’t work is to try to force the friend to choose. An octopus friend is someone who tries  to hold onto a friend too tightly, which makes the friend want to get away. Being a good friend means accepting that friends are allowed to have other friends.

I’ve known some kids who try to divide a shared friend evenly by coming up with elaborate rules and schedules along the lines of: on Wednesdays and Fridays you get to sit next to her, and on Tuesdays and Thursdays I do, unless it’s an indoor recess day….” The shared friend might feel flattered, at first, but the schedule almost always gets messed up somehow, and everyone ends up feeling annoyed by the rules.

The best solution is to try to befriend the other friend. Getting together with just the other friend for a playdate might help your child and the other friend get to know and like each other.

Another possibility is to introduce a fourth or fifth friend to the group. If you think about a triangle representing the connections between three friends, it’s very hard to keep every side of that triangle equal at all times. Expanding the triangle by adding another friend can ease tensions.

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