GREED, envy, jealousy: Negative emotions that we are all born with which as we go through our lives we learn to control (hopefully).

I have definitely got better at this as I have gotten older. Twenty years ago I used to get very irritated by certain things. For example, when someone at work that I considered of inferior ability got promoted seemingly on the basis of wearing a nice suit and saying what the boss wanted to hear I used to be quite irritated at the injustice of it all. Or if a friend got a stunning new girlfriend I would think “how did he manage that?” In hindsight it might have been that my booze- swilling, kebab- munching persona of that era wasn’t particularly attractive to potential partners but, of course, I couldn’t see that back then.

Now that I am in my forties, all of these things wash over me barely causing a ripple of annoyance.

In fact it is more the opposite. I tend to see the world and the strange things that happen in it from a lofty perch marked “experience” where I can view it all with an air of detached amusement. You could say I’m happy with my lot in life. Am I annoyed when a footballer gets a £100,000 a week pay rise or an airhead celebrity sells thousands of copies of their books while mine are sitting unloved on the shelf at Amazon? Not at all.

I can’t say that I’ve eradicated these emotions altogether, I doubt whether anyone can, but I’ve learned to control them. However the same cannot be said of the children. The sibling rivalry between my two boys is reaching epic proportions. They have become fiercely competitive over toys, food, attention, and pretty much anything else that they can squabble over. Each is determined to be first in the pecking order and neither will accept that they cannot win every time.

To give a couple of examples: If one of the boys picks a toy off the shelf that has been sat there ignored for the past three months, the other instantly wants it. Or if they are drawing and have a big pot of crayons, it’s always the most important thing in the world that one has the colour crayon the other is using – even if there are 50 other colours to choose from in the pot.

As a parent, how does one deal with all this, particularly when they descend into screaming, shouting and hitting? Well, I normally take away the disputed item so that they both lose out. I can’t stop them feeling these naturally occurring emotions though so such scenes are likely to be repeated in the future. But I see it as a good thing because they will learn from it all and be better prepared for the future. Because anyone who grows up always getting everything they want is going to be sorely disappointed by the realities of the adult world.