“That’s not fair!” may be the most popular complaint in the history of childhood. Kids seem to notice any real or perceived injustice from a very early age, particularly any injustice that befalls them. Yet how, exactly, does one even define what’s “fair?” The classic work in moral development by psychologist Laurence Kohlberg showed that children through age seven tend to define fairness as “everyone getting the same.” But in reality, fairness is not about all things being equal. Fairness, rather, is about actions and consequences that are right, honorable and equitable.
In this month’s newsletter we offer tips, activities and conversations starters designed to help you foster fairness in your kids, as well a recipe that’s muy delicioso in recognition of this month’s Cinco de Mayo holiday.
We’ve got some big news over here at The Family Dinner Project! We’re currently working on revising the Recipes section of our web site to more specifically address the challenges families face in getting dinner ready, and to simplify the process of finding just the type of recipe you need. All of our offerings will now require no more than eight main ingredients, take no more than 30 minutes to assemble and, as always, will be healthy and kid friendly to make and eat. Our new categories include: One-Pot Wonders, From the Pantry, Befores and Afters, Comfort Food with a Twist, and Build your Own. We’ll let you know as soon as they’re up on the site!
This month’s scrumptious tostadas recipe comes from our new Build Your Own category, which helps parents manage the unique tastes and preferences of individual family members at dinnertime. We originally chose this recipe in recognition of this month’s Cinco de Mayo holiday, but then we realized: What better way to also exemplify “fair but not equal” when it comes to food? With tostadas, everyone gets access to the same ingredients, but each person gets to pick only the ones that he or she wants. Perfecto!
Make a Rules Poster
Rules don’t have to be boring. First, make a list of the values you want to inspire in your kids and then let them cut out photos from magazines that demonstrate these qualities (such as a picture of one child sharing with another). Or spell out the words with cut-out letters that your child can help to glue to the poster. Remember: There are no rules when decorating your rules poster – so be creative! Here are some examples for inspiration. By engaging your kids in “making” the rules, they’ll feel a greater sense of ownership in following them.
Fair or Not Fair? That is the Question.
Here’s a game you can play at the dinner table or elsewhere. Brainstorm and write down a bunch of statements that could be interpreted as fair or not fair. Examples include:
Read each statement aloud and ask your kids if they think it’s fair or not fair. If they say fair, they’ll give a thumb’s up and explain why. If they say not fair, they’ll give a thumb’s down and explain why not and how they might change the scenario to make it fair. This activity is not about conclusive answers, but is more an exercise to get kids thinking in the right direction
In a Quandary? Play a Game.
Playing simple, old-fashioned board games with your kids like Candyland or backgammon can offer many teachable moments regarding how to follow rules, take turns, play fair, be honest, and accept defeat graciously. In addition, Quandary, a free video game that parents and kids can play together, encourages your child to solve difficult problems as he or she leads a new colony on the planet Braxos. In Quandary, players make difficult decisions in which there are no clear right or wrong answers, only important consequences – to themselves, to others in the colony and to the planet. Learn more and play the game here.
Here are a few fun and simple conversation starters to get your family talking about fairness.