This month we will focus on the character concept, “fairness.” Therefore, our power-chat discussions and activities will aim to help children understand the importance of being fair, as well as to inspire them to show fair behavior. We will be conversing about playing by the rules, showing honest behavior, considering other people’s feelings, taking ownership of their mistakes, and giving everyone a fair chance.
Fairness can be challenging to explain to children as many of them will confuse “fairness” with “sameness.” While giving everyone “the same” might be fair in some cases, often, sameness, in other cases, is not fair at all. Picture the family that sits down to dinner. If fairness meant “the same” then
everyone should be given the same amount of food regardless of need, hunger, weight, or size. I think most would agree, that wouldn’t be fair at all!
A new study shows that how children define fairness is often dependent on age (Science; May 2010). Young children feel that everything should be divvied up equally. In fact, most of the school-age children felt that all inequality was unfair. Older children in the study factored in merit and achievement when it came to how rewards should be divided.
Since human social interaction is strongly shaped by considering other people’s preferences and needs, it’s vital that we help sculpt children’s understanding of what it means to be fair. Fairness takes perspective-taking, self control, empathy, and respect for others (April’s Powerful Word).
Please speak with your children about fairness this month and what it means in your family. Talk about how taking turns, sharing, listening, and being accountable are all important parts of being a fair person. While “life” may not be “fair,” everyone can still choose to show character and do what they know to be fair.
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