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Character Counts » The Pillar of Fairness

The Pillar of Fairness

The Character Counts Coalition uses the color orange to symbolize the pillar of Fairness. 

"But that's not fair!" This could be one of the most commonly heard complaints of children. I suppose it is still pretty common for adults too. This month students are learning about the pillar of Fairness and how this quality adds to their developing character. One who is fair could also be described as wise and graceful, always trying to do what is right. I hope this information will be helpful for you to teach, enforce, and model the concept of fairness to your child. Keep in mind that the concept of fairness can be difficult for children to understand. Sometimes it is easier to point out something that is unfair, rather than something that is fair. It is normal for children to compare themselves to siblings or friends or feel jealous. This does not mean that as the parent you have to fix everything or try to control things so that your child does not have these feelings.

The process of assisting your child’s development of good character goes far beyond just the teachings of one month. Reinforce the principles they are learning even as the month ends. In the long run, your efforts will be rewarded with the satisfaction of seeing your child with a strong character and the ability to do what they know is right.

Key Ideas

  • Fairness and Justice: This means to be fair and just in dealing with everyone; treat everyone equally. Make decisions without playing favorites and don't take advantage of others. Don't blame others carelessly or unjustly. Take only your fair share, take turns, and share with others.
  • Sportsmanship: Play by the rules, be honest in your judgments of scoring and penalties, and take turns. Make sure that teams are set up equally. Let competition guide you to do your best, not get the best of the opponents. Win and lose graciously.
  • Openness: Keep an open mind and hear people out. Listen to what others have to say and get the facts before you decide your feelings or opinions on the matter. In a disagreement, try to see the other person's side.

Ways to Treat People Fairly

  • Find ways to share, take turns, and feel less jealous.
  • Ask people what you can do to help make things fairer.
  • Include others in games and activities; don't leave people out.
  • Respect people who are different from you.

Signs of Fairness

You will be able to tell that your child is developing a sense of fairness if they…

  • take turns regularly when playing with other children
  • share toys consistently when playing with other children
  • follow the rules when they are playing games
  • listen attentively to another person's point of view
  • accept consequences of misbehavior

When you see these behaviors, make sure to praise and encourage them. It will continue if they know it is being noticed and they will feel even better about themselves for doing the right thing.

For You To Consider

It is more important to try to understand why your children think the way they do and what their issues are than to try to rectify the situation.


"It is not fair to ask of others what you are not willing to do yourself." - Eleanor Roosevelt

What You Can Do At Home

  • Make expectations clear and predictable as possible.
  • When children complain that something is not fair don’t respond with “Life is not fair.”, rather listen to their feelings and validate them.
  • Let children tell you why they think things are unfair and how they would make things fairer. Choose to act on their suggestions if you like.
  • Give adequate explanation if you must change a previous decision.
  • Involve children in decisions and rules that will involve them. Explain your rational for the rules and decisions that you make, but don’t feel like you have to justify them.
  • Explain and model that we treat everyone with respect.
  • Set goals for each family member on how they will show fairness.
  • Listen carefully to your child’s explanation of a situation before jumping to conclusions.
  • Make every effort to treat all of your children equitably.
  • Model openness and appreciation of the differences between groups of people.
  • Participate in community events that reflect or address cultural diversity.

Keeping Sports Fun and Fair

There are lots of positives and negatives about sports. On the positive side they provide exercise and a release of energy for growing bodies. Organized sports teach discipline, time management, teamwork, determination, achievement, cooperation, fairness, loyalty and how to win and lose gracefully. Children who are busy in positive and supervised activities are less likely to get involved in negative or harmful activities. On the negative side sports can have serious time constraints and pressure, pushy parents, verbally abusive coaches, teams or team mates that do not play fairly, and discouragement with defeat. Children need to learn at a young age that the positives outweigh the negatives and how to keep sports and competition in perspective. Sports should also be fun! Here are some ideas to help you to guide your child in this direction.

  • Before you sign your child up, check out the level of competition, the rules of the league, the safety standards and the coach’s style of working with the team. Make sure that these aspects match your child’s interest and ability. Once they are signed up, if you have a problem with the coach, pick a private time to address it with him/her calmly.
  • Be your child’s biggest fan. Focus on what they are doing right and give constructive criticism, but leave the instruction of technique to the coach. Be patient and reassuring of their skills and performance. Go to as many games as you can and celebrate the good performance whether they won or lost.
  • Help them understand what it means to be a winner and that it doesn’t just happen when you win the game. Success can come from internal standards of how hard they try and how much they have improved. Competition should be about motivating us to bring out the best in our own performance, not about putting down or getting the best of the opponent.
  • Try not to push or pressure too much. This will lead to a child getting down on themselves, becoming perfectionists, unmotivated or burned out.


Prepared for you by Kimberly Pappas, School Counselor. Please call 310-798-8623 or email [email protected] if I can be of any assistance to you.