How to practice fairness and accountability

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Fairness is about everyone getting what they deserve and need. However, it has been observed that many times folks focus on what they want and not so much on what others may need or deserve. In a world where it seems that life is not fair at times and many do not get what they deserve the question we ask ourselves is how can I practice fairness and keep integrity to the values I believe are suitable for all.

If we are in a position of power over others whether it is as a teacher, parent or employer, we will do well to start with not asking others to do something that we would not be willing to do ourselves. As children watch us and how we deal with each other and them they are learning how we practice fairness in our everyday life. Do we share the chores at home with other family members? Are the tasks we assign others just the things we do not like to do? How do we respond when we make a mistake?

When a mistake is made, many times there is a cover-up by claiming not to know who made the mess, or by blaming it on another person. When a child sees this done by an older sibling or an adult who is deemed a leader in the community, they are not learning accountability and responsibility for the action. They are seeing injustice taking place, and in some way, this may permit them to do the same. So what is fair when mistakes are made?

Fairness calls for us to admit that we made a mistake, apologize for the error – the Balanced Life Skills way by saying, “I am sorry for _____.” and following it up with restitution or making it right. Taking these steps will help our children to see fairness displayed practically. In fact, we can name sharing responsibilities, being accountable for mistakes as fairness when talking to our children and acknowledge them for their appropriate actions with others.

While this all seems like giving others what they need, fairness must always be balanced with assertiveness and justice for ourselves. Fairness is for everyone to find the balance in what we need and deserve.

Bringing out fairness in our children

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While hearing the refrain, “That’s not fair” comes when someone is not getting an emotional need met, many times it occurs when the rules are not followed, or it is perceived that someone has an unfair advantage by bending the rules. No matter where we find ourselves, playing a game with the family, a competitive team sport, in the corporate world or when competing for a grant to help a good cause there are rules and expectations that we expect everyone will be following.

There are times though that one family member forgets whose turn it is, or an opposing team does not follow the rules, or there is an underhanded dealing in our work, and things are not fair for all of the competitors. Every culture, organization, competition has both rules and ethics that have been agreed to or are understood by most parties and our understanding them helps us to conduct ourselves in a way that makes everyone appreciate how much we value the virtue of fairness.

To help our children understand that all of us need to work within the rules and ethics of the groups, we belong to we can use something as simple as having a driver’s license. The rules of the road are there, so we take turns at intersections, know which side of the road to drive on, and what all the signs on the road mean. These keep us safe. There are also ethics and good manners involved. While there may not be a rule about who gets a parking space, ethics, good manners say that if someone has their blinker on indicating their desire for a parking space, that we do not jump in front of them – just because we could. It is the fair thing to do.

When bringing out the best in our children fairness can be acknowledged in them when we see them;

  • taking turns in a game,
  • sharing food (especially a dessert) or toys,
  • when they had not complained about the time you needed to make for their sibling when they were sick, or
  • after a game that everyone did follow the rules.

Later you will recognize them for playing in competitive sports without complaining to a referee or about a bad grade they received on a school paper.

Look for those small occasions of fairness and point them out as such so that at a later time when they are upset about something that does not feel fair to them,  you can guide them to being fair with others and they will have a good understanding what fairness looks like in your family.

Fairness is a virtue that involves our respect for others and giving them the dignity everyone deserves. It is the practice of justice for everyone, even when we wish that things had a different outcome.

Fairness begins with personal integrity

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It is not unusual for any person to feel angry when they perceive that something is not fair and especially if they are the recipient of the short end of the decision. In fact, most anger comes from a feeling of not getting what we think we deserve or that someone else is not behaving in a fair way to us. Many are willing to call out “that’s not fair” anytime their needs are not met.

Angry feelings are a normal emotional reaction to having a goal blocked, or we are frustrated by what we perceive to be ‘not fair.’  This month we are considering what fairness is and so the question, does fairness mean that everyone gets the same. All of us can think of a time when we were left out or received less than others around, less attention, fewer accolades, less food. What are the factors that might play into fairness?

To begin with, we understand that every situation is different. Different circumstances, ages, needs to play a part in fairness and many times our point of view may even cloud our opinion. Let’s say there is a team chosen for a competition. Only five people can be on the team, based on the rules – but we want to be a part of that team. How could that decision be made and remain fair, even if some will not be able to go to the competition?

These may be some of the factors considered:

  • Talent
  • Age
  • Effort
  • Time to practice
  • Desire
  • Attitude
  • Favoritism

Which of these appear to be fair or unfair? How would you go about making these choices?

Teaching our children about fairness begins with our integrity to fairness and treating others according to what is needed, deserved and appropriate. There may be times that we give up our personal needs and wants for that of others because it is the right thing to do. When we remove our emotional desire and needs, we can be courageously decisive on the side of fairness.

Gifts of Character: Fairness – The Definition

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Each month we will discuss one life skill with all of our students. This month’s skill is Fairness. This life skill will be defined in the following ways for our students.

Young students: When everyone has or receives what they deserve and what they need

Older students: Treating others according to what is deserved, needed or appropriate.

We are not your typical after school activity, in fact, we are an education center, working with students on physical self-defense skills while empowering families to bring out the best in our children and ourselves – through the martial arts. We believe every child has 52 gifts in them already. They only need to be taught how to grow and use them in their life. Balanced Life Skills serves parents, teachers, and students to reach that goal.

If you would like to see Joe Van Deuren and Balanced Life Skills at work, TRY CLASSES FOR FREE for 2 weeks.

You are a leader, like it or not – What kind will you be?

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Not every person aspires to be known as a leader or even have the desire to be a leader. No matter if we are five years old or 85 years old it is likely that in some way we are a leader. As John Quincy Adams put it; “If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader.”

If you are five years old and you have a younger brother or sister or go to school with students who are younger than you are, you can be sure that your actions and words are being watched and even copied on some level. Some one person is likely looking at you and following your example or dreaming of being like you on some level. So like it or want it or not – you are a leader.

Because all of us fit into that role in our personal or public life the question I like to ask is what or how do I want to be perceived by others. What example do I want to set, how do I want to be known either as a leader by choice or just because others are watching me? Having clarity about the kind of leader you want to be whether, in your family, school, business, or as a mentor or friend will help you to meet all of those occasions on purpose and will give you confidence about being your best self.

The clarity and reminders to yourself of what you aspire too will also create a higher level of happiness in your life. Leadership is not something we may seek, however, given that all of us fill that role in some manner we do want to do so with our best self and with confidence.

Leadership is the opposite of Bossy even with children

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This month we are considering the skill of leadership at Balanced Life Skills for students of all ages because every one of us has the opportunity to lead others at some point in our world. No matter your age if we look at leadership not as a position of power, but rather as an opportunity to help others and to reach a common goal by working together.

For some leadership is about being the boss. Being a boss is simply a position of management of others and while a ‘boss’ may become a leader there are certain things they must learn to do that will help them be a leader.

For instance, a leader must know how to listen to those around them and be willing to consider all suggestions without favoritism for one person over another. Leaders must invest their time both in the work that needs to be done and in the persons around them. Helping the people around them to develop leadership skills is one of the most valuable commitments a leader can make to those who have committed themselves to the good of the group.

This month we will consider how young people can develop these skills and lead in a way that shows them setting a good example and making good choices for any group of which they are a part. Leadership is an honorable skill that brings out the dignity of everyone around them.