Two simple steps to stop kids from saying, "That's Not Fair!."
by Susie E. Caron (c) 10/12/14
Do you frequently hear your child exclaim, That's not fair!"? If you have more than one child, you've probably heard it often, and this article is for you.
I practically erased the complaint with my own two children. I've helped many parents to remove it in their homes as well. With the two easy steps I share below, you can succeed too. (Note: Kids may still attempt to complain, but don't worry, if you follow this plan, they won't find it effective.)
First: From time to time you may need this verbal response.
Whenever you hear "That's not fair," for whatever the reason, you can simply reply (in a tone that carries all the kindness and respect in your heart) "Well, Life isn't fair, so get over it." You can substitute your own words. For example: "I never claimed to be fair. I only claim to be honest, so move on." You are not being 'mean spirited' here. You are simply telling them the truth.
What are the real reasons that kids say, "That's not fair!"
Here is a review:
1. Children try to get their way. (Surprise!)
2. Children try to get you upset and into a power struggle (which some kids seem to enjoy even though it gets everyone upset).
3.Children try to gain some other reward or privilege when they cannot get what they are complaining about. (This happens if you begin to feel unnecessary guilt and 'halfway give in' in order to appease them. I don't recommend this!)
Second: Take this concrete step to prevent kids from saying "That's not fair!"
Get a calendar with squares you can write on. Here's one I like: a Melissa & Doug Calendar, * but any paper calendar will do. Now, if you have two kids, simply write their initials, for alternating days throughout the month. This works just as well for 3 kids, 4 kids, or more kids. You can even put your own and your spouse's initials in the rotation if you choose. However, to keep it simple, we will just use the kids initials on an alternating basis for each date. Their initialed days became their guide for 'fairness.'
Here's how it works.
I started this when my kids fought over who could sit in the front passenger seat of our car. (This was back in the day when even preschoolers could sit in the front. It is just my example and I am not advocating kids sit in the front seat.) Anyway, I bought a calendar and wrote their initials on it. So on K day, Kim got to sit in the front. On the N day Ned got to sit in the front. But that's not all! I discovered that this worked so well that it not only eliminated their complaint about the car, it also meant I could branch out to other privileges and....ta da....chores!
So on a 'K' day, Kim unloaded the dishwasher and set the table for dinner. On an 'N' day Ned did these two chores, but Kim cleared the table and loaded the dishwasher. The next day they simply switched.They alternated, so neither child ended up doing the same chore every day. But, that's not all! I discovered I could use the calender for more peace.
As children do, they sometimes complained about the dinners I served, which I expected them to eat. (I was not about to make more than one dinner per night!) Kim liked some foods, and Ned liked other foods and they claimed it wasn't fair when they didn't like dinner. So, I suggested Ned and Kim each select one of their initialed days every week and we'd plan to have their choice for dinner on that night. It worked with an added bonus! To my surprise, I also discovered each child was more willing to eat what the other had planned, because they knew on their night their sibling would eat their choice without complaint.
There can be a lot of variation in this plan with chores and privileges. Some kids prefer certain 'chores', like feeding a special pet. This can be worked out with a chores list under each child's name, separate from the alternating chores. The calendar plan just really helps with those things they don't like to do. Privileges can also be added. Some parents told me that the child's initials helped their kids decide who got to go on the computer first at computer time. (To read more about schedules that work, click to see my blog: How to build an after school routine for less stress and more fun. )
More Benefits for Initiating This Calendar Plan.
The calendar eliminates many arguments between the siblings. In fact the calendar eliminates a lot of sibling rivalry, power struggles and policing for the parents. Parents discovered, as I did, when they use this plan, that the kids end up monitoring it themselves, with very little parental interference. In fact, once the calendar is established the children seem to run with the plan themselves.
In the blog I referred to above, I explained why it is important to sandwich the things kids really want to do in between the things they must do. Thus if you plan 1/2 hour each day for chores, and the kids get them done properly, in 15 minutes, you may wonder: "Can I give them more chores?" I advise against that, because the reason kids drag their feet through their chores is because of their main fear - They are afraid you will give them more chores! Instead, plan out chores with your kids, tell them this is the list for this school year, and it will be revisited for the summer. Tell them that when their chores are completed each day they may move onto doing something you allow and which they like to do.
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Susie E. Caron
Susie E. Caron MA,
Author, Blogger, Podcaster,
Christian, Wife, & Mother, helps build parent-child relationships, 1 blog, book & podcast at a time.
Welcome! I recently retired from combined careers in teaching, psychotherapy, and parent coaching to spend more time writing.
When I'm not busy creating books or articles, you might find me looking for dark chocolate or riding my beautiful horse Apple in the woods and fields of Vermont.
These articles are for educational and self-help purposes only and are not intended as psychotherapy.
If you experience unusual symptoms or discomfort please see your medical or mental health practitioner.
No patent liability is assumed for use of the information contained. The author disclaims any responsibility for loss or risk for use or application of this material.
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Blog Reviews & Thank You!
July 13 at 7:17pm ·
Just wanted to say that I love your posts about the different ways to connect/relate/understand your child. It has given me a new approach towards understanding my daughter and allowing HER to tell me how she feels instead of me suggesting to her how she should feel. Thanks Susie!