It is almost always in the matter of games and competition that we hear the call of that’s not fair. We live in a society that winning is very important, so much so that sometimes there are those that will do almost anything to win, even to the detriment of their reputation or even health. It starts at an early age playing a board game, when the rules are not completely understood or there is an intense rivalry between players. Someone may be tempted to skirt the rules for the sake of “winning”.
When that happens it is not fair to the other players, and many times causes resentment among the competitors and most certainly create a situation that is not fun for others. In teaching fairness I believe that first we the parents must have a healthy attitude about competition. Our children learn from us “how important winning is”, and how we should react when we lose. We may have to reduce the amount of playing time we play individually as we work on our competitive attitude.
Here is a simple fact of life that all children must learn and adults need to remember. Life is hard, sometimes we will lose, and many times it will not seem fair. The sooner we teach our children that life is not just about being first, winning at all cost, and having more than others – the better prepared they will be for the real world, in a healthy way.
We do this by setting the example for them. Not comparing ourselves with others, or demonstrating a jealousy over what another family has or is doing. Fairness is not about competition, it is about getting what we need and deserve.
Some things are going to be equal and everyone should get the same amount, and other times things will be different and yet still fair. Sometimes though fairness is determined by factors that we have a certain amount of control over.
If we are attempting to be a part of a team and there are limited positions on the team there will be choices made. Who is chosen for the team may be based on factors like, talent, effort, desire, time commitment, or even attitude. These would all be fair comparisons. Those comparisons are one’s that we do have control over how much effort and time we put into an activity.
There will be times though that when all other factors are comparable it may come down to relationships. This can seem to be very unfair, if we are on the losing side. But even our children must learn that not everything is going to go there way and that even when things do not seem to be fair, we must maintain a good attitude and not demonstrate bad character if we do lose out on something that we really wanted.
Parents can help with this by demonstrating a caring and understanding attitude for their child and not react in a vindictive manner. Remember our child is watching us in everything we say and do and will imitate our actions later.
We have all heard it and all of us have said it and some time in our life. “The words almost always precede an argument or fight amongst siblings or even friends. They are, “THAT’S NOT FAIR.” When it is a young child saying those words it is usually about someone getting more than them or someone getting to do something that they cannot do. When it is an older child it could be about something very childish or it may be not being allowed to do something that they feel they have the right and need to do. Still further along on the age continuum as an adult we may feel that something is not fair when we see or feel an injustice being committed in the legal or political system. Or on a more personal level, an adult may feel the unfair treatment from an employer or even a friend.
Those words, that’s not fair, carry with them some very intense emotions. So what is it that makes something unfair? First as an adult we understand that the word fairness can mean different things in different situations. It may have to do with a group project that all must contribute equally for the best results. On the other hand we would not expect to provide equal amounts of help on a project to an experienced team member as we would an inexperienced one.
As a parent though, dealing with those words from younger children certainly does not carry with it the same emotions as being accused by a teen of not being fair. This month I hope to discuss this subject on a number of different levels including when we are being accused and when we can act as a mediator. The meaning we are working with is, treating others according to what’s needed, deserved, and appropriate.
Each month we define and discuss a word of character development with all of our students.
This month the word is Fairness and will be defined this way.
Young students: Fairness means: We all get what we need and deserve
Older students: Fairness means: Treating others according to what’s needed, deserved, and appropriate.
Here are the worksheets for our students:
Fairness Tiger Tot project Fairness 5-6 project Fairness 7-12 project Fairness Teen & Adult project
If you would like to see how we will deal with this subject with our students please follow our discussions here during the month of February or come in and try a class.
What is it that makes us a good citizen? it is not just about our intentions or where our heart is. It is about our actions – what we do, for and with the community that we are a part of. Our communities include our family, school, extracurricular activities, our neighborhood, and yes the world.
As a part of a group we need to follow the rules. Most of the time these rules have been set up so as to provide protection and safety for all the community. Most times the rules make things fair for everyone also.
In the family at home we have rules like cleaning up our own messes or toys, not hitting, respecting the privacy of others. In school we have rules like raising our hand to answer, waiting our turn in lines, and showing respect for the teacher. In our community we agree to follow the traffic laws, not littering, not stealing or hurting our neighbors. In the world we are beginning to understand more and more that everything we do and consume has an impact on others in different parts of the world.
When we follow the rules, we make things fair for others too. It simply is not fair if one person does all the picking up and cleaning. As a good citizen we would share those responsibilities, even if we are a young child. As we teach our children about those responsibilities as a citizen we are also teaching them about fairness and helping others. Good citizens follow rules. Just think what our world would look like if everyone followed the rules and pursued peace by being good citizens.
Fairness means: “We play by the rules, show we care, do our part and get our share.
Older students, teens, adults:
Fairness means: Treating others according to what’s deserved, appropriate, and needed.