Character Chats

How is playing by the rules fair?

Every month we have a word of the month in our studio. It’s our social and emotional learning program called True Character. This month’s word of the month is fairness.

Fairness means everyone should receive what they deserve and what they need. It can sometimes can be a little difficult to define.

Example of fairness

Sometimes the idea of fairness can be defined by an example of a family or group sitting down for a meal.

Should everybody get the same amount of food? Not necessarily.

Maybe somebody who sat down had lunch an hour ago. Maybe somebody who sat down is four years old and kind of small. Maybe somebody who sat down is not four years old, spent all day working in the garden, planting, and skipped lunch so they could get it done by dinner.

What would be fair is for people to get what they need. The person who skipped lunch, worked outside all day, should get a lot more to eat than the person who’s four years old and the person who had lunch just an hour ago, right?

Fairness isn’t everybody getting the same. Fairness is everybody getting what they need and what they deserve.

Playing by the rules

Now, let’s talk about fairness and playing by the rules.

Rules are an important part of life to make sure that we stay fair and safe.

Let’s take a look at a couple of scenarios…

Scenario #1: We’re running a race and I decide to trip you so I can win. Is that fair? No, when we’re running a race, we’re trying to see who’s faster. That means we play by the rules.

Scenario #2: We’re playing a card game and I look over your shoulder at your cards to see what you have. Is that fair? No, it’s not fair to cheat in cards by looking over someone’s shoulder and taking a look at their cards.

Equal footing in competition

Part of winning is winning by the rules and understanding that we’re both even — we’re both agreeing to the same rules, and we’re going to see who does better. That’s part of what a competition is.

If we’re in an art competition and I scribble on your art project, is that fair? No. Scribbling on somebody’s art project and destroying it so yours looks prettier is not fair.

Understanding that you won something because, fair and square, you went up against somebody else and you wound up being ahead — that is fair.

That’s also what feels better in the end. The victory doesn’t feel like a victory if you have to cheat to get there. It’s the hard work that you put in that really makes your trophies and your medals feel good.

Rules at home

What are some of the rules at home regarding making and cleaning messes?

If one person makes a mess, but never cleans it up, is that fair?


We don’t find it fair when one person is always a slob, leaving wrappers on the countertop all the time and walking away or not washing their dish or putting it in the dishwasher.

What’s fair is all of us doing our part — doing our share at home.

Rules of the road

What are some of the rules of the road?

Is it fair for somebody to decide that they’re just not going to stop at a stop sign today — they’re going to take those as optional? Is that fair to everybody else on the road?


We all drive on the same road. We all agree to the same rules. We all stop.

Rules playing with friends

What about some of the rules of playing with your friends?

Is it fair for your friend to decide not to play by the rules?

One of our rules when playing with our friends is that we share. We want to share with our friends. We want to take turns with our friends.

Also, we don’t push — we don’t shove.

We want to make sure that we all play by the rules with each other. That way it’s fair, and we all have a fun time doing what we’re doing.

So remember, fairness is our word of the month.

Thanks, and we will see everybody on the mat.
– Master Helsdon