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(Part I) When Your Child Says It's Not Fair

First of "Parenting with M.E" Series

· toddler tantrums,parenting tips,disciplining a child,parenting a toddler,motherhood

Once upon a time we couldn't wait for our baby to start talking and calling us "mummy". Then we wonder when our toddler would ever stop talking. Then come those blood-pressure-raising moments when the preschoolers display defiance, retort and snap at us saying, "it's not fair!"

Oh what can I say?

Be careful what you wish for!

I've had my sons whining "it's not fair" in the following situations:

1) losing a toy racing game against his Sibling

2) Not being the first one to run to the door when we get home from school

3) Not getting the slice of cake that's bigger (it's the same size really. It's all in their imagination)

4) fighting over toys

5) getting reprimanded for fighting with each other

Basically "it's not fair" seems like a common complaint and easy excuse for not getting what they want, or "losing face", which means having their egos hurt from suffering defeat.

Guess what kiddos, Life ISN'T fair!

So here's a straw -- suck it up

Well, of course that's not what I verbalised to my preschoolers, but the main idea is there.

Most of the times when they whine, the moment passes rather quickly because they move onto another activity or shift their focus to something else. In such situations I would simply let those moments pass. After all, I do have my moments of whining too. However, if shouting "it's not fair" leads to a meltdown or a temper tantrum, then I would definitely have to address the issue directly. Usually it would be my 5yo whom I'd need to manage and reason with.

One important thing about parenting and discipline is, the lesson has to be clear, and the message has to be consistent. Trust that regardless of how brilliant your child is for his age, he will always be forgetful when it comes to remembering the lessons that you have taught him. So repeat and reinforce whenever necessary.

Here's my "life isn't fair" pep talk to my 5yo

I know you are upset that you lost. But that's what happens when you want to race or compete with each other -- sometimes you win, and sometimes you lose. When you win, it's easy to be happy and celebrate. But when you lose, you need to learn to be gracious. Being gracious means you congratulate the winner and say "well done" or "good game" and not throw a tantrum simply because you lost.

You were saying "it's not fair", but you know what? Actually you are right. There are a lot of things that are not fair. Do you realise it's never a fair competition when you challenge your Brother? You are bigger and stronger than him. You can run much faster than him. You have been in school for a longer time than him and have learnt more things than him. So is it fair?

5yo agrees it's not fair.

I want you to know that it's never a competition between you and your Brother. Because you guys are good at different things. Because mummy loves both of you very much. Because we shouldn't be competing within our family. We should be taking care of each other, encouraging each other and helping each other. Yes you can have fun and race each other, but I don't want any of you to get so upset when you lose. And if anybody should be complaining that it isn't fair, don't you think it should be your younger Brother?

5yo feels better about himself as the big Brother. It always helps to reinforce that he's the leader of the lot and that his younger siblings learn from him and look up to him. This also heals his bruised ego and shifts his focus to being bigger and stronger, and in a position to care for his younger siblings. It motivates him to want to be a better big brother.

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