Teaching youth about fairness – Character Series Part 4

Explore strategies for teaching fairness to youth in a world that is not always fair.

If you’re raising children, chances are you hear “life isn’t fair” or another colorful variation weekly, if not daily. While there’s often truth in these statements, parents and care-providers know that there’s value in rearing children who practice fairness even if they don’t always receive it.

Fairness is the fourth pillar in the Six Pillars of Character, from Josephson Institute of Ethics’ framework "Character Counts!” These pillars of character are great tools when talking with children and young adults about character and doing what is right and wrong. The Six Pillars of Character ® include: trustworthiness, respect, responsibility, fairness, caring and citizenship.

Teaching youth about fairness involves exploring what is fair and just, treating people equally, being open minded and impartial and exploring facts objectively. We do not want to teach our children to take more than our fair share, take advantage of or blame others unfairly.  

Sometimes when we think of “fairness” we may also think of “justice.” Both words are directly related. However, “justice” is often thought of in terms of broader social issues or institution obligation, while fairness relates to more everyday, interpersonal relationships.

As parents or caregivers of teens, it is important to remember the need to act with fairness when conflicts arise. According to the book “Parenting To Build Character In Your Teen,” we should break down procedural fairness into four main elements:

  1. Fair notice - Does your teen know the rules/expectation? What the punishment might be?
  2. Impartiality - Investigate situations objectively without a bias.
  3. Gather facts - Find as much information out as you can.
  4. Fair hearing - Your youth/teen needs and opportunity to explain themselves.

Michigan 4-H Youth Development Programs help youth develop character through their 4-H projects and experiences.  4-H provides opportunities for youth to strengthen their character through, exhibiting projects, leading groups, participating in events and so much more.

To learn more about how to bring character education into your community, read these articles:

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