Rules for having a fair argument

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Should+Married+Couples+ArgueWhile we may not shout – “That’s not fair.” – when in the midst of an argument, it is likely that we have thought it when the other party says or does something that triggers a reaction in us that has nothing to do with the discussion at hand.

Don’t you think there should be some rules for arguing that everyone agrees to?  For some people arguing is fun, maybe you have met that person, or you live with them.  In simple terms this is someone that we call the “Difficult Person”.  They are never able to hear a request or be told anything without asking Why or why me or whats in it for me.  They many times are disagreeable and will do so for the sake of disagreeing.  Here are just a couple of thoughts about keeping the fight fair.

  1. Stick to the subject at hand – do not bring in the past, or unrelated issues
  2. Be respectful and courteous without the use of profanity or violent gestures – the use of profanity to drive points home demonstrates a frustration of feeling not heard.  Violent gestures are the precursor to real violence – on the person or on physical property, neither of which will win the argument.
  3. Limit the number of rounds to 5.  More than that demonstrates that both parties are having a difficult time hearing the other person, or simply unwilling to compromise.  After 5 rounds it is time to take a break, agree to take it up at a later time.
  4. Agree to allow either person to call for a break, before hurtful things are said.

There are more possible rules, but this is a good start.  Do you have any rules you use, especially with family members?  Like us on Facebook and make a comment there with your thoughts.

Fairness when mistakes are made

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mistakesWhile all of us make mistakes – all of us have the opportunity when we do make a mistake to deal with our mistake in a fair way.  Our initial reaction to making a mistake might be to be worried about getting in trouble.  At Balanced Life Skills we do not worry about getting in trouble.  We want to do the right thing – because it is the right thing to do.

So when we make a mistake we are willing to take the responsibility for the mistake.  It would not be fair to lie about what really happen or what we may have done wrong.  Worse than that would be to put the blame on others.  How unfair to blame another person for the mistake that we have made. Very close to blaming others would be to make an excuse as to why we did what we did.  Either way we are refusing to take the responsibility.

Our reaction when making a mistake will always be to take the 3 step process, no matter if it is a drink that we spilled or if we said words that hurt the feelings of others.  Here is the process that we teach at Balanced Life Skills:

  1. Admit we made the mistake.  Recognize exactly what we did that was wrong.
  2. Apologize in the correct way, by saying, “I am sorry”.  We will not use a flippant “sorry”.
  3. Fix it.  We will do everything we can to make the wrong right, and hope for forgiveness.

Reminding our students of these steps will help them to exercise ‘fairness’ in all that they think, say and do.

Fairness and our personal responsibility

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fairnessIn a world where it seems that every child is awarded a trophy for just being on the team, for showing up – or because “he tried real hard”, the question comes up: Is it always fair for everyone to be in the same class, learning the same material at the exact same time and rate?  Is it fair for everyone to get everything in life equally without regard to the effort they put forth or the results they achieve?

Could it be that one child has more talent at this given time, has put forth more effort, spent more time practicing, and therefore is just better than another person who has put forth little effort and just expects that they will be awarded with a prize for showing up.

On the other side of that question – is it possible that there has been favoritism shown for some over others, they have been given preferable time to practice or the team has been built with only the best players.   Fairness is not just giving the same amount or same thing to everyone.  While it is important to give to all what they need and deserve, it is also important that when given that opportunity and what appears to be ‘more’ than others that we show appreciation by our own actions.
How disgraceful it would be, to be given the extra time and attention – and then not put forth the effort to improve, or to take for granted and just expect that we should always get that attention no matter what our own efforts and actions are.  Getting what we need, deserve and is appropriate comes with the responsibility to use it and put forth our own efforts to reach our goals.

What is fair? Helping young people learn about fairness

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its-not-fairWhat is fair?  When we are young the answer to that question may seem easier to answer than when we get older.  From a young person I can hear them saying – “Hey he got more than me – that’s not fair”, or “I wanted the red ones – that’s not fair”, or “I wanted to go first – that’s not fair”.  Then as a parent we are left to settle this situation.

Fairness is seen from the eye of the beholder.  When a particular need is not met, or if they do not get what they wanted, or feel like they have been slighted it may be seen as not being FAIR.  Being fair does not mean that everything will always be totally equal though, or that we will get everything that we want.  There are other factors that play into the question of fairness and it can get quite complicated and even messy.

Is this a fair division of the pie?
Is this a fair division of the pie?

For example, How would you divide a pie up if you had to serve eight people?  First reaction is divide the pie into 8 equal pieces and serve them equally.  When you learn that two of the eight were below the age of 3, two were teenage boys, and the rest were adults – would that change your answer?  Of course it would, as a 2 year old does not need as much as a teenage boy, in fact it would not be good for them.  What if one of the boys had an allergy to gluten, and would be sick from eating this pie?  Would that change what was fair then?  Should you even serve pie at all, is it fair for the others to forgo eating pie because of the allergy of one.

Your answers are most likely going to be based on your personal experiences and possibly on the influence of others who are with you at that moment.  In our discussions about fairness with our students, one of the big lessons learned was the need to listen to the thoughts of others.  When there is a dilemma of fairness, hearing many points of view and the arguments of others will help us formulate an answer to fairness.  

Helping our children to understand the guiding principles of fairness and then learn to combine them with other character skills like empathy and kindness, will create more peaceful relationships in our homes, classrooms and community.  This month we are discussing fairness with all of our students.  Their comments and viewpoints have been very interesting.

Life Skills: Fairness – The Definition

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Word of monthEach month we will discuss a life skill with all of our students. This month the word is Fairness.  This word will be defined in the following ways for our students.

Young students: Fairness means: We all receive what we deserve and need!

Older students: Fairness means:  Treating others according to what is needed, deserved and appropriate.

Each age group has a worksheet that parents can use to continue the discussion at home with their children, and one for adults to allow them to think more deeply about the skill and how it applies to them. Would you like to receive the worksheet? Stop by our studio at 133 Gibralter Avenue in Annapolis, MD and tell us the age of your child. We will give you a worksheet and invite you to watch Mr. Joe discuss the word with the students in class.  You can also follow our discussions here on this website.

If you would like to become a member of Balanced Life Skills, come TRY CLASSES FOR FREE.   We are not your typical after school activity, in fact we are an education center, working with our students on physical skills along with empowering families with compassion, awareness and respect – creating a culture of peace – through the arts.  We believe in every child and build their self – confidence.  Balanced Life Skills takes part in community service and encourages each student to do the same.

Fairness: Listening to the whole story

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Teaching children about listening is more than just getting them to listen to us as their parent or teacher.  If we would like to help them to develop good leadership skills, then we must also teach them to listen to the whole story.  Listening to the whole story prior to coming to a conclusion will save ourselves from embarrassment and our relationships with others.  Here is one way we may be able to do that.

To start conversations with a child you may want to use what I call, “What if”  questions.  “What if I walked into the room and I saw _______standing in the middle of a big mess?”  Who would I might think made the mess?  If I saw that I might want to say to ________ “clean up!”  Is that fair?  Would it not be a better question to ask, “what happened?”  and hear the whole story?  We may find out that someone else made the mess, or that the person was in the middle of cleaning up the mess.  Listening makes things fair.

Practicing this ourselves and taking the time to help our children see how and why we ask such questions will help them to do the same as they come into situations with their friends.