“I can’t give Sam a donut without giving Susie a donut too.”
On the surface, this seems reasonable and fair. But is it? Do you buy Sam shoes just because Susie’s feet have grown? Or punish Susie because Sam misbehaved? Giving Susie a donut simply because you’re giving Sam one teaches both kids the wrong eating habits.
In the spirit of the Back to School Season, let’s think about the lessons kids need to learn to become healthy eaters. Fair is one of them.
The problem with It’s not fair is philosophical. It boils down to this, What do you think fair means?
There are a bunch of different definitions of fair, but when it comes to feeding kids, there are two relevant definitions.
- Fair can mean equal or equitable.
- Fair can mean just, everyone gets what they need and/or deserve.
The desire to use the equal version of fair is understandable. Children get upset when they don’t receive treats what other kids do.
But what does addressing their emotional disappointment with unnecessary treats actually teach children? At a minimum, it teaches kids that they can — ought to — eat whenever anyone else does. In other words, it dissociates kids from their internal hunger and satiety.
The equal version of fair also undermines efforts to teach children about proportion.
And in the worst case scenario, addressing emotional disappointment with unnecessary treats teaches children to soothe their souls with sweets.
In the end, It’s Not Fair is an emotional cry.
The best response might just be a hug. And, not for nothing, but the less we parents use the fair=equal argument, the less our kids will too.
For more on this topic, read Fair is Fair…Or Is it?
~Changing the conversation from nutrition to habits.~