I was amused to read this news report that dogs can sniff out unfair situations and show an emotion similar to envy or jealousy. Friederike Range, an animal psychologist at the University of Vienna said that this is a more complex feeling than we would normally attribute to an animal.
But then I read the report carefully. It seems that the dogs in the experiment were purposely placed in a situation where they were given unequal rewards for equal work. Or denied rewards given to other dogs.
In other words, they were taught to be jealous, by humans.
But then, humans even teach their own children to be envious of others. When a child brings home a report card with good marks, before even praising the child, many parents ask about their friends’ results.
Such children are never judged to be successful on their own merit, they are successful only if they are better than their friends.
Children learn early in life to compare. They are encouraged to do better than others in order to ‘get ahead’. This is a phrase often used- getting ahead. But getting ahead of whom?
There will always be someone more clever, more athletic, more talented than our children. Should they then be pushed all the time? If this happens, they will always have an inferiority complex- which some children do get, as a result of such constant ‘competition’.
A child should feel comfortable about his achievements. He should be encouraged to develop his talents, but not just to be better than the neighbour’s child.
A friend told me that her daughter was learning Bharatnatyam. I asked if she enjoyed her dance classes. “I don’t know” my friend told me, “But it will look good on her CV later on. An additional qualification.”
What a reason to learn to dance!
Life, unfortunately, is not always fair. Children do learn that from an early age.
Some children are naturally intelligent, while others are not. Some have a melodious voice. Others do not.
Some children need to study for long hours, to get the same marks that their friend may be able to obtain very easily.
But that does not mean children should be jealous of each other.
Parents should not constantly make comparisons between children, and as a result make them jealous. They should instead encourage their child to develop his special talents to the best of his ability.
Children should learn to appreciate the successes of others without feeling envious. Then they will also receive genuine appreciation from others for their own successes.
Edited on Dec. 17 to add:-
As Mavin says, it is indeed raining awards!
First Shail gave me my very first blogging award- the Butterfly award for the coolest blog.
Now Mavin has so kindly conferred upon me the Proximity award.
This has also been awarded to me by Mandira.
I have also been given the Butterfly award once again by Smitha.
A heartfelt thank you to all of you!