Teaching Fairness in the Early Childhood Setting

Image of Fran the Fair Frog

For young children, fairness means:

  • Know and follow the rules.
  • Share with friends and family.
  • Listen to friends and family.
  • Don't blame family and friends.

Young children are very impressionable, and teachers are an important influence on young children. One way you can help children learn to be fair is by example. If the children see you following rules, sharing, listening to others and not placing blame, they will be likely to follow your example.

Infants and fairness

One important way to establish a foundation for teaching fairness to a child is by listening. When the baby is awake and alert, listen to her different sounds and respond to them. When the baby starts babbling, she will love to hear you copy her sounds and she will probably babble some more. If the baby sees you respond to her babbling, she will continue to babble. You will be encouraging language development. Remember that listening is character development. Babies who are listened to will learn they are important and valuable, and they will be likely to listen to others when they are older.

Toddlers and fairness

Concepts of fairness are not easy for toddlers to understand. During this time, think of building a foundation of fairness. Many things you do for the children in your class will help in their later understanding of fairness. Listening to the toddlers is a good example. When a child wants your attention, let her know you care by getting down on her level and listening to her. She will learn from this that she is important and listening to others is important.

Toddlers love to hand toys and objects to adults. This is an early form of sharing. Pay attention to these moments and to the toddler's sharing behavior, and the toddler will learn the value of sharing (take note that this probably will take all year to develop). Remember that part of being fair is following the rules. The first rules toddlers usually learn involve safety; for example, don't touch hot pots on the stove, or stay away from the street. The rules may not be easy to enforce, but toddlers need boundaries. Enforcing rules is a good way to do this.


Preschool classrooms generally have rules, such as no running inside, pick up your toys when you are through with them, or be kind to your friends. Sharing these rules with the parents will be helpful to the children because they will become accustomed to following the same standard of behavior at home and at school. If you are unsure of what rules to establish at school, you may want to involve your children. Their ideas may surprise you.

Provide opportunities for children to play simple games during the day. Playing card or board games with the children will encourage the children to take turns and share. Look for games designed for the ages of the children in your care. They will not be frustrating, but will still provide a challenge.


3/16/2005 1:04:05 AM
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