Children Learn What They Live #16

~ by Dorothy Law Nolte ~


Our children's sense of fairness begins with small things. If we are respectful in handling their concerns about being treated fairly, they will have the foundation they need to extend the same kind of respect to others.

In order for our children to learn that they can speak up in the face of what they consider to be injustice in the world, they need to practice expressing their feelings with us.

We need to take our children's feelings seriously and respect their right to express themselves openly so they don't fall into a pattern of resentful acquiescence that could be damaging to our relationships.

Be clear in your communications. And when your child has disobeyed you, consider the possibility that there has been a misunderstanding or misinterpretation of your directions. Check in with her point of view first.

Many kids don't tell their parents everything about their experiences outside the home. We can only hope that what they learn in the family will guide their actions out in the world.

It's inevitable that our children will witness and experience injustice in their lives. If they have had some practice and success in standing up for what's right in their own home, they will be more able to advocate for injustice in the world.

It's almost impossible to be fair all the time in a large family. And since fairness is subjective, everyone may not always agree. Do your best, knowing that things won't always be perfect.

We all know it's not easy to be fair, and each person has a different idea of what is fair in any situation. Take the time to talk things through as a family so each child can understand the other points of view.

If we listen to and respect our children's protests about what they see as unfair in the family, they will learn that they can help change things for the better.

Fairness in everyday happenings in the household lays a solid foundation for the larger concept of justice in the world.

Expecting perfection or holding unreasonably high standards for our children is just plain unfair. We may need to work at accepting our children's limits, but that's our problem, not theirs.

Children take the unfairness in the world to heart, especially when they see or hear about other children who may be suffering. Help your children find ways that they can take action that will make a difference, and teach them that together we can work toward justice for all.

We can't expect our kids to understand the whole concept of justice until at least adolescence. Our own examples of being fair and just will help build their understanding.

The news headlines are filled with examples of injustice. Take the opportunity to discuss current events with your children to help them begin to understand how the world works, as well as how they can help make it better.

Be sure to respect and take seriously your children's sense of fairness. They have an innocence and idealism that we don't want to lose.

Your children will experience plenty of examples of unfairness in school, in sports, on the playground, and in the community. These experiences will help them learn that sometimes life isn't fair. They need our help in understanding this fact of life and learning how to deal with it.

Look for opportunities to acknowledge your child's sense of fairness and concerns about justice. These are the foundations for his developing sense of ethics.

When you see an example of someone exercising fairness, point it our to your child. Even if it's just kids taking turns, it's still an example of respecting the right of other people.

Find ways to spend special time alone with each of your children. It's a great way of letting them know you value each of them, each in his or her own way.

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