Understanding Fairness

fair graphicOver your parenting career, you will hear the phrase “that’s not fair!!” multiple times a day. Starting the day your child talks and ending the day you stop being a parent. Which is never. Depending on your child’s age, there are different ways to teach them to understand fairness. Older kids can grasp the concept that “fair” doesn’t always mean “the same” while younger kids probably won’t completely grasp the idea of fairness until they are older. But the younger you start teaching them about other people’s needs- the easier adjusting to the needs and wants of others will be.

Dr. Robyn Silverman has four tips for teaching kids about fairness. Dr. Silverman is a  child/teen development specialist, body image expert, sought-after speaker and award-winning writer, and graduated with her PhD from Tufts University’s prestigious applied child/teen development program. She is known for her no-nonsense yet positive approach to helping young people and their families thrive.

  1. Fairness is based on need Going off of the point I made before, everyone’s needs aren’t the same. Talk to you child about someone you know who may have different needs that your child. Experiencing fairness in a situation with someone who has more or less needs than your child may not result in equal treatment.
  2.  Fairness is based on desire Everyone has different desires and enjoys different things. Tell you child to imagine they like reading. But their little brother or sister does not like reading. Should you make sure they get the same amount of time reading per day? Fairness is partly based on desires of everyone involved, not just one.
  3. Fairness is based on merit Different people put in different amounts of effort. Some people work hard, and other people hardly work at all. Since everyone’s level of effort is different, fairness doesn’t always mean the same.
  4. Fairness is based on appropriateness Depending on age, experience, and ability, what is fair may change. If your child knows how to ride a bike, and their littler sibling does not, should they both be given a bike for their birthday? That would not always be appropriate.

While these tips aren’t guaranteed to make your kids stop saying that accursed phrase, they will help you child begin to understand that they are unique and they won’t always have the exact same thing as everyone else at the same time they have it. Keep in mind some children are ready for some activities, toys, and experiences quicker than other children their age. You know your child best, so use your best judgement when it comes to trying to be like the big kids.


*tips from: Dr. Robyn Silverman

Dr. Silverman is a repeat featured expert on The Today Show, Good Morning America, CBS Early Show, Nightline, The Tyra Show, NBC’s LXtv, Fox News, NPR, and more.  She has also been quoted in the Washington Post, LA Times, Time Magazine, Today’s Moms, The Daily News, Parenting Magazine, Parents Magazine, Prevention Magazine, Marie Claire, InTouch Weekly, Women First, SELF,  on hundreds of popular websites like and U.S. News and World Report and on award-winning blogs such as Junkfood Science and BlogHer.  She provides expert tips to parenting and children’s programming such as the award-winning “Ruby’s studio” through The Mother Company.


About Brittany:

Brittany was born and raised in Alabama. She is a Wife and Mama of two sweet babies- her son John is two years old and her daughter Annie is ten months old. She is pursuing her degree in Home and Family Studies with an emphasis on Child Development from BYU. She is looking forward to writing for Birmingham Mommy in preparation for graduation in the Fall of 2016.

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