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Building character- Fairness

Building character in children is very important and Crucial to support at a young age. That means talking about it, modeling it as adults, and reading about it.

What does building character mean? It means becoming more independent, becoming stronger, strengthening, and improving ones mental and moral qualities of an individual.

This week we are going to focus on building the trait of Fairness. Fairness is the way we treat each other, the way we play a game, and the way we live our life. Fairness may not be taught as easily as other character traits, but with consistency from adults facilitating conversations and modeling fairness, children will recognize fairness and act fairly towards others.

How to help teach children about Fairness.

  1. Practice Turn-taking. This is a good starting point for the especially young. Through playing games like peek-a-boo and building with blocks (you lay one, I lay one), parents are able to provide a basic understanding of taking turns which is an element of fairness. For older children, use games as an opportunity to model and explain why we play by a given set of rules, how we take turns, and how we encourage one another even when we are unhappy with an outcome.

  2. Notice Fair and Unfair. Draw attention to behaviors in books, movies, and in life when others are acting in a fair or unfair manner.  Ask your child questions like “What is another way he could have acted to make things fair?” or “How did she show fairness to the other person?”

  3. Praise Fairness. Take a moment to recognize and verbalize when your child is acting out of fairness. Helping him to notice fairness in his own behaviors will help him to grow in his understanding of the concept.

The following age level specific guidelines to help you teach this particular value.

3 – 4 YEAR-OLDS:

Three to four-year-olds use intuition, not logic. They have a hard time not thinking that “fair” means whatever they want. Adults can facilitate conversation to be positive by coming up with solutions in conflict situations. Focus on saying "yes" instead of always saying "no".

For example, children this age may think they are too “big” for naptime, so parents could call it a “quiet time,” and even allow them to look at picture books while on the bed.

5 – 6 YEAR-OLDS:

Five to six-year-olds are beginning to know that others have different feelings than themselves, at that rules are there to make sure that everyone is playing in a calm and cooperative way. It can be a challenge though so children may respond negatively to criticism and punishment by sulking or being rude. Which is a natural way for children to learn to regulate their emotions, actions, and feelings in a social setting.

Adults can help by explaining to children why specific behaviors are important in social situations and why they are an expectation. Children can also be encouraged to use language to express their feelings, and not just act them out. This is a form of self-regulation, and children and adults have to be very alert within themselves, to control emotions at times, especially when upset.

Here is a social story to start the conversation about Fairness

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