All people must be treated equally—including children. But when you’re dealing with kids of different ages, interests, and personalities; it can be difficult to make decisions without having one (or all) of them storm off yelling, “But it’s not fair!”
Let’s take the example of “The Chocolate Bar.”
Suppose two kids are given a chocolate bar. As a parent/caregiver wanting to teach fairness, the smart thing is to split the chocolate in half. Right? But wait—what if only one child likes chocolate? Is it still fair? Or would it be better to give the whole bar to the child who enjoys it?
Fairness is about getting everybody’s needs met. If each person’s needs were identical, then splitting the chocolate bar in half would work perfectly 100% of the time. But we know all too well that our children are more nuanced than that.
This principle doesn’t just apply between siblings either. There’s also the question of what’s fair between parent and child. While a fancy steak dinner might feel like a treat for you, it might feel like a punishment to your kid. They may respond with one of the three R’s (rebellion, resistance, or retaliation), and you may respond by calling them spoiled or ungrateful. Things spin out of control quickly, all because you expected your child to have a certain reaction to a steak dinner they never wanted to begin with!
So, how do you make decisions regarding vacations, leisure time, food, and more that are truly fair for your children?
Fairness is not about “one for you, one for me.” Being truly fair is everyone’s needs are met (which isn’t everyone’s wants are met) it’s about being able to take everyone’s needs into consideration and as you show what it looks and feels like your kids know how and reciprocate with the same consideration back to you. This way everyone’s unique preferences are recognized and everyone feels so seen, known, and loved just the way they are. From this point family problem solving that is bringing everyone ones voice into the space will bring about outcomes that are preventing future disappointments.
Love and Blessings,
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A 3xTEDx speaker, media contributor, parenting coach, and a mom of two - helping families thrive by using the Guidance Approach to Parenting.