In a paper greeted enthusiastically at the May conference of the American Psychiatric Association, in San Francisco, a new name was given to a common problem: Post Traumatic Embitterment Disorder. This disorder describes people who can't stop complaining, criticizing and grumbling about the "raw deal" they got or how "Everyone has more – more love, success, attention and possessions." They are constantly feeling deprived and disadvantaged, raging at those who fail to satisfy their demands and blaming others for their misery. While some embittered people experienced abandonment, neglect and abuse in childhood, others were loved and even pampered. And while many of them have suffered tragic losses, such as serious illnesses, abuse or the death of loved ones, others enjoy good health and have loving spouses and successful children. In other words, this "cancer of the spirit" hits both the rich and the poor, the sick and the healthy, those who seem to have everything and those who seem to have nothing.

Thankfully, there is a great deal we can do to help ourselves and our children overcome what is called an "ayin ra'ah," or a begrudging eye. This is an illness which must be curbed early; otherwise it devours everyone, including the victim. You might see it early in life, in situations such as:

* Six-year-old Shira grumbles constantly about how rejected she feels. Each time she goes out to play her mother knows that, at some point, she will run into the house screaming angrily about how mean the other girls are toward her. She also complains that her teacher is mean and doesn't choose her when she raises her hand.

* Five-year-old Miri is insanely jealous over the fact that she has frizzy hair, while her older sister has long straight hair. She thinks that she is ugly and that everyone is looking at her and comparing her to her perfect sister.

* Eight-year-old Moshe ruins every family vacation by grumbling about everything - the food is awful, the ride is boring, his siblings irritate him and other kids have a lot more fun on their vacations. He grumbles about the fact that other children get loads of sugary sweets, while "mean mommy" gives him healthy fruit rolls and raisins and won't buy fancy name-brand clothing.

* Fourteen-year old Yitzy hasn't stopped sniping at his parents for not being able to afford a fancy Bar Mitzva party like many of his friends had and anyway, he adds, his family is defective because there are no grandparents who live near by.

These children respond to disappointments, frustrations or irritations with more than the normal rage and blame. They are inconsolable when upset and sometimes take out their murderous rage on younger siblings or by attacking the parents physically.

If you see such signs of bitterness in your children you must invest time in developing their Emotional Intelligence, which means helping them understand their own and others' feelings, and teaching them to cope with deprivation in a mature way. Do the following to develop an ayin tova (a forgiving/accepting eye) and fight the begrudging eye:

1. Validate their feelings: You don't have to spend hours feeling sorry for them, but you can briefly say, "I see how disappointed you are. It's hard not to get what you want." If helpful, let him "measure" his pain level on a ruler.

2. Show gratitude: Throughout the day, look up frequently and say, "Thank you, G‑d, for _______." This can be anything from having electricity and running water to hearing good news about a recovery from an illness or other joyful event.

3. Have a gratitude raffle: Buy a roll of raffle tickets. Tell the kids, "Every time someone mentions something for which they are grateful, I'll put a ticket in the box on the table. When we get to 300 (or 1000!), I'll order pizza."

4. Show faith: Show your children that you are using losses and irritations to develop faith. The next time the child returns from the swimming pool minus a towel or bathing suit, or something breaks or you are stuck in traffic, say out loud, "G‑d is giving me another opportunity to accept His will." And if you are facing a more serious loss, like an illness, the loss of a job or the death of a loved one, say, "I'm really struggling to make G‑d's will my will. My acceptance level may be only 2%, but every percent counts."

5. Have an acceptance raffle: Tell the children that you'll put a raffle ticket in the bowl each time they experience a disappointment and say the words, "I accept G‑d's will with love." This can be about any disappointment, including the fact that they don't like their height or nose, are disappointed about not getting the food or the trip they wanted, or experience any loss or irritation. Order pizza or reward them in some other way when they reach 500 tickets!

6. Tell them: "Our Creator gives me everything I need. It might not be what I want, but it is what I need." Let your children know that you, too, have many desires that you have not fulfilled, such as a bigger apartment or better paying job.

7. Refuse to compare: In a modest way, talk about your own limitations to remind your children that no one is perfect and that, nevertheless, everyone deserves respect. Some people are good at cooking, cleaning or doing math while others are not good at these subjects, but might be great at art work or organizing social events. Make sure that children know that everyone is given the precise character traits and life events for their particular task in this world.

8. Find a talent and nurture it: Find what your child is good at and nurture it, whether it is music, dance, singing, learning or business. Each child needs to feel special and important in his own way. And everyone can do chesed, which is the best spirit lifter of all!

I made up a Kids' Kit which contains "Coping Cards" for adults and children, and also has a ruler on which a child can measure the level of his pain and disappointment. I kept a set of cards on a poster board on the wall of every room in my home when my children were little and told them to choose a card when they were in pain. I kept another set in a fancy jewelry box. Whenever a child had a serious problem, I'd say, "Here are the jewels which G‑d gave us to help us cope with our pain." Then we would go through them one by one. Over the years, these cards will teach you and your children to use life's losses to become better, not bitter.