Stuff she doesn’t like is felt as personal injustice. She doesn’t have the vocabulary to articulate “I want a free candy bar and I don’t like it that my brown-nosing sister is getting one when I don’t! I want to have my cake and eat it too!” So it comes out as “It’s not fair!”
Well TirPolar you are correct, I was just trying to understand it from a child’s viewpoint?
By saying “It’s not fair” would the child really believe she was being wronged? Or do you think the child knew darn well she didn’t deserve the candy bar, and was just using the “it’s not fair” as an excuse in hopes to guilt her mum into getting her one too?
I was thinking back to when I was a kid, and it seems by age five or six, I understood the “rewards” concept
The mom was making a number of parenting mistakes:
Never use food as a reward. Teaching your kid to equate getting candy with being good is not a great way to help them learn how to eat responsibly.
In any case, normal household duties should not be rewarded with treats. You do your chores because everyone in the household pitches in, not because you get something in exchange.
Punishments should follow the inciting incident as closely as possible. The longer a punishment is deferred, the more unjust it feels.
Avoid setting up situations where one sibling resents the other. Sure, some sibling rivalry is going to happen no matter what you do. But why encourage it?
If the little girl didn’t clean her room when she was told, she should have been scolded and put in time out before the trip to the store. Instead the mom wimped out and chose an indirect (and ineffective) form of punishment that teaches a variety of bad lessons.
The reward isn’t for cleaning quickly. It’s for cleaning regularly, and not throwing everything in the closet or under the bed, and for being a good kid. If there’s no obvious benefit to being a good kid, guess what’s going to happen some day. A reward can be as simple as a compliment, it doesn’t have to be something extravagant.
Which makes the kid angrier and undercuts the parent’s moral authority. “Life isn’t fair” isn’t a defense of your decisions; it’s an admission that you are in the wrong but that it doesn’t matter because you are more powerful. Which is a foolish position to take, especially when you aren’t even in the wrong in the first place.
I don’t think that “life isn’t fair” ever did anything but convince me that I was in the right as a kid.
“If you both clean your rooms, one of you will get a candy bar and this will be determined randomly by lotto, except on odd months of the year where it will be determined by a 3-round kickboxing match, winner takes all.” My kids will be prepared for life.
I think there is more truth to this than you might have meant, with the brown-nosing bit. When I was a kid, I would have meant (but not been able to articulate) that it was unfair that my sister, who liked cleaning her room and probably would have anyway, and was only all too eager to do it to show how much better than me she was, should be rewarded for that, while I should be punished even though I’m much smarter and it’s not my fault that I hate cleaning my room and she doesn’t and I didn’t know it was going to be a KING SIZE candy bar I thought it would just be one of those little “fun size” Snickers I don’t like that much anyway!
Which isn’t necessarily a better argument than “It’s not fair!” but it’s definitely a longer one!
I understand the appeal of trying to understand a child’s view point, but have you considered that there are millions of adults who behave the same way? It seems like a hallmark trait of highly-negative passive-aggressive people to claim life is unfair and feel victimized.
I’m not talking about adults failing to comprehend that a complicated series of events ultimately lead to a bad result of their own making… Lot’s of adults feel they were wronged even when the logic is about as simple as “clean your room = candy”.
Personally I agree with, dangermom, whether it’s a 5 year old or a 45 year old who is behaving that way.
Even to adults fair can be a very subjective concept…
i.e. there are two organizations. In one organization employees are rewarded by seniority. Layoffs happen to those on the job most recently and people who have been around longer get paid more. This is very structured, objective, and therefore very “fair.” But those that work harder, but have not been around as long see this as “unfair.”
In the other organization, there is no value placed on seniority. People who are perceived by their bosses as working harder and more valuable are retained and rewarded. This is seen as very fair to those who manage to give the impression that they add value, but is seen as terribly unfair to the guy who has been around twenty years and thinks he works hard but no one notices. Its very subjective and the rules can change all the time.
My experience is that when a child hollers, “that’s not fair,” that’s your absolute tip-off that the situation is completely fair. The child was told the consequences beforehand: no clean room, no candy bar. What is perceived as not fair, now in the candy-dispensing phase, is that she got one and I didn’t. Mom sticking to her guns reinforces actions/consequences.
I consider candy a highly appropriate reward. It’s not “food” it’s a treat. We don’t withhold food from children as a punishment, we withhold treats.