Answer When Your Kids Want It "Fair"

Friday, April 3, 2009

Tired of hearing your kids whine "It's not fair! He has more cake than me!" or "It's not fair! She gets to go; why can't I?" Here's a tried and tested solution for all frazzled moms and dads.

Make things fair. Announce that things in this house will be fair from now on.
Choose a day when you can stay home with the children for at least 4 hours. Set out to be as annoyingly fair as possible. If one child goes to the bathroom, make the other go. If one wants cereal, make the other eat the same amount. If one sneezes, insist that the other sneeze as well. Hold firm for at least two hours. This will begin to wear on you too, but insist that each child mirror the other in every aspect of their day. Once things reach the breaking point, have a family meeting. Ask if they would like to re-think their request that things be "fair." If the answer is no, continue to repeat steps 3-5 until the answer is yes. Explain that we are all unique- that older children get different privileges - girls have different needs than boys, and special needs children are treated differently as well. But this exercise should show them that every child doesn't have the same needs, and that what is good, or what is appropriate, for one may not be good for the other. The next time you hear "It's not fair!", respond with, "I can make it fair if you really want me to!"

Choose a day that there is not a lot happening in - for you or the children. Choose the most irritating things possible to make the other recreate - the list is endless, but should include food, drink, trips to the bathroom, sneezing or coughing, movements, tying shoes, etc. Stand firm. Insist that the other sibling actually do the action, eat the food, etc. If they break down too soon (like 15 minutes later) insist that you're going to make things as fair as possible, and continue on. The longer and more painful you make the exercise the longer they will remember it.

If you have children with food allergies, make sure that anything one is allergic to is put away so they will not be required to eat it. This is a 'duh' but I have to put it- do not insist that the second child hurt himself or herself if the first one did this. You may have them repeat the action (such as kicking the table) but not with the same results. This will work with special needs children, but usually only in the case of the mainstream child learning to understand his sibling's world. Depending on the nature of the disability, the special needs child may get no benefit from this exercise. Watch out for unexpected company, emergencies, and busy chores. You do need to stay close to the children, and if you get too distracted, you may need to try this exercise on another day.

This 'How To' may not be suitable for many children. Why is your child saying things are unfair? Is there an underlying problem that you haven't noticed? For example, a younger daughter may develop negative feelings about herself if she wants to be more like her adolescent sister - developing breasts, perhaps going out with boys, going to more adult parties, etc. Don't sweep serious issues under the carpet by making light of the situation. Sometimes, saying 'You always seem to have more cake than me' really means 'I wish I was you'. Rather than spending four hours with two children, showing them you are as immature as they are, why not spend two hours' quality time with each child and find out what's really on their mind?


amiable amy said...

thanks for the visit girl, doing my rounds too

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