Teaching Children about Fairness

Image of Fran the Fair Frog

For young children, fairness means:

  • Knowing and following the rules.
  • Sharing with friends and family.
  • Listening to friends and family.
  • Not blaming family and friends.

Young children are very impressionable, and parents are the most important teacher children ever have. One way you can help your child learn to be fair is by example. If your child sees you following rules, sharing with your family, listening to others and not placing blame, he or she will be likely to follow your example.

Infants and fairness

One important way to establish a foundation for teaching fairness to your child is by listening. When your child is awake and alert, listen to her different sounds and respond to them. When your baby starts babbling, she will love to hear you copy her sounds and she will probably babble some more. If your baby sees you respond to her babbling, she will babble some more. You will be encouraging language development. Remember that listening is character development. Babies who are listened to will learn that they are important and valuable and 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 your child will help in her later understanding of fairness. Listening to your toddler is a good example. When your toddler 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 your toddler's sharing behavior, and your toddler will learn the value of sharing (take note that this probably will take several years to develop). Remember that part of being fair is following the rules. The first rules toddlers usually learn revolve around safety issues, for example, not touching hot pots on the stove or staying away from the street. The rules may not be easy to enforce, but toddlers need boundaries, and enforcing rules is a good way to to 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. Enforcing similar rules at home will be helpful to your child because he or she 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 home, you may want to involve your children. Their ideas may surprise you.

Playing card or board games with your child is another way to encourage your children to take turns and share. Look for games that are designed for the age of your child. They will not be frustrating, but will still provide a challenge.

3/15/2005 3:20:21 AM
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