When Siblings Say, “It Isn’t Fair”

March 9, 2017
When Siblings Say, “It Isn’t Fair”

Photo courtesy of http://www.strivetogether.org/

It is very common for siblings to complain that lots of things in their daily lives “aren’t fair.”  But making things “fair” doesn’t mean making things the same.

Helping to explain the difference between giving your kids the same things and giving them the same opportunities can teach children this important message.


  • Talk to your kids about differences that make sense.  For example, a kid in their class who wears glasses or someone who has an allergy and eats a different snack.  Help them realize how these differences do not make things “unfair.”
  • Introduce the idea of a level playing field.  Talk simply about giving each child the same chance to succeed.  You can use the illustration above, or find a real-life example in your home.  Talk about what one child needs to accomplish a task and how that is different than what a younger or older child, or a child with different skills or knowledge may need to do the same.  
  • Talk about need.  Ask your children what they “need” vs. “want” in certain situations.  For example, “who needs help to finish their project?”  It may help older siblings avoid seeing attention towards younger children as being “unfair.”
  • Change your language.  Instead of fighting against whining about fairness, use those opportunities to problem solve with your children.  If the rules or privileges have to be different, help engage them in finding a solution that works for everyone.  This will encourage perspective taking (seeing situations through the eyes of others) and empathy!