Teaching fairness is a difficult concept. We all understand why our tween should be fair, but actually turning that into fair behavior on their part is not always easy. The following are a few suggestions for parents in aiding them to teach fairness to tweens:
1. When punishing your tween for misbehavior, make sure the punishment is fair. This is a very important part of teaching tweens to be fair. They often experience feelings of injustice, or think that you have been unfair in this area. After all, you are the parent, and what you say tends to go, regardless of whether or not the punishment is truly warranted. So, help your tween see you as fair, and appreciate when fair treatment is aimed at them by choosing punishments carefully, not letting too much emotion be factored into the decision. A great way to help make punishments fair is to sit your tween down and discuss it with them, asking for their input.
2. Be an example of fairness. Beyond the punishment aspect of you being fair in front of your tween, you need to practice fairness in all aspects of dealing with them. They will learn from this. Just like toddlers often copy everything their parents do, tweens will develop the same characteristics of their parents if they feel they are good ones to follow. So, practice fairness and you will inspire it.
3. Don’t encourage unwarranted competitiveness. Tweens are competitive in many settings, outside those of athletics and games. They can be competitive for their parent’s affection, in dress and appearance, etc. Competitiveness is often the anti-thesis to fairness, as many tweens will use unfairness to gain an edge over their competition. Not only does it not help them learn to be fair, but can be unhealthy, hurting esteem, and friendships.
4. Praise and encourage fairness regularly. Whenever you have a conversation with your tween, use it as a teaching opportunity to promote fairness. For example, if they ask if they can have a friend over for a sleep over, say, “Why don’t you go there, he/she came here last time, and so it is only fair if you go there this time?” That subtly reminds them not to be selfish, and to be fair. In addition, when you see them acting in a way that is particularly fair, be sure to acknowledge and praise it. Tell them how proud you are of their fair behavior.
5. Talk to them about fairness. It is often natural for tweens to be unfair. They are fairly selfish typically, and do not always recognize when their behavior is unfair and inappropriate. So, talk to them about being fair, and about what kind of fair behavior you expect from them. When they are unfair, do not let it go unnoticed, instead, make a point of talking to them about it, and making sure they know you noticed, and are not happy with how they are acting.