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That's Not Fair!

If you are a parent or serve in children's ministry, you have heard these three words many times.


You will often hear these words muttered at the end of a game or when awards are being acknowledged or when a child feels like he or she has been treated unfairly.

So how should you respond when you hear those words? Here are some tips.

Sports and Competition:

Remember that losing and moving on are skills that you can help kids develop. This will help them deal with negative experiences as they grow older. It will also help them develop empathy and will help them cope with the experience of losing.

Show them that losing a game is an opportunity to learn from their mistakes. It can help them get better if they have the right perspective. Remind kids that everyone has different talents and you can't be the best at everything. Everyone has something that they are good at. Focus kids on what they do well.

Wanting something and not getting it:

Perhaps a brother or sister got something and they didn't. Or they want to go to an event, program or activity, but you say "no."

For children - they are at an age where it's all about "me." Especially in the early childhood years. They can't see things logically or see other people's point of view. When they don't get what they want - it's not fair!

What should you do?

Acknowledge their feelings and help them see that we have to wait sometimes for something we want.

Help them develop patience in the waiting time and teach them to maintain a good attitude.

At other times, it will be a "No. You can't have it right now." Show them that it's not for the best at this time.

Express empathy. No fair! I didn't get as much as him or her.

Here are a few age-related tips to remember.

Kids aged 6 to 9 are very focused on rules. Those are the rules and we have to follow the rules! This has to do with the way they see the world at that age.

Show empathy and let them know that you understand how he or she feels.

Life is not always fair. It's important to help kids see this.

If you can help them see that it's about more than just him or her. There is a big world out there with people who are suffering or hurting much more than us.

Get the child involved in serving. This can help their attention shift from themselves to those around them and how they can help them.

One weekend, I really wanted the kids to understand that there were other people who were in need of their help and sacrifice. I did this by placing a bag of candy in front of every child. They had to leave it there the entire service without touching it. I wanted them to want that bag of candy really bad and having to stare at it would increase those feelings.

The lesson that day was about being generous and helping others in need. At the end of the service, I told the kids this.

"You see the bag of candy in front of you? It's yours to keep. You can take it home and eat it all by yourself. Or here's another option. There is a small town about 45 minutes from here. The town is very, very poor. The kids there don't get candy like you do here. So here's the choice you have to make.

You can take the candy home and eat it or you can leave it here and we will take it to those kids this week. The choice is yours."

I could feel the tension in the room rise. What would they do? As we dismissed the service, it was wonderful to see that most of the kids left their bag of candy for the kids in that underprivileged town.

The kids learned a great lesson that day.

If we can help kids see that 'fairness" is not about us. It's about helping others who are struggling.

When children are always getting but rarely giving, their attention turns inward. Everything is about them and what isn't "fair."

But when they keep a heart of gratitude and serve others, the "That's Not Fair" will lessen.


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