Character Chats

How to listen and argue fairly

Every month we have a word of the month as 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. So fairness isn’t necessarily everybody getting the same thing, it’s everybody getting actually what they need in life.

Today we’re going to talk a little bit about fairness, and listening and arguing fairly.

Listening to others

Is it fair to somebody if you never listen to them? No.

Have you ever been in a situation where your friend wants to do all the talking and you listen, and then it’s time for you to say something and they don’t even want to bother to listen to what you have to say?

That’s not fair, right?

It’s both fair and fun to make sure that we all have a say.

Disagreeing with others

How do we argue fairly? There is a way to argue fairly.

You’re not being fair to yourself if you always do what other people want you to do. If you always agree with everyone all the time, you’re being unfair to yourself.

You have a right to your own opinion and what you think. And you know what? That means it’s not going to be the same as everybody all the time.

So to be fair, we want to make sure that we share our opinion. But we want to share it fairly.

If you disagree with somebody, is it fair to call them names? No.

Is it fair to push, and shove, and hit? No.

Is it fair to say that their idea is no good? No.

Is it fair to say that you disagree with them? Yes. It’s fair to say that you disagree with people.

Disagree agreeably

One of the things we say is that when we disagree, we want to make sure we’re not disagreeable.

It might look like, by watching adults on the TV all the time, that adults have forgotten how to disagree without being disagreeable. And it might look like they think it’s fair to yell and scream at each other.

Unfortunately, that makes entertaining television. But it doesn’t make for good friendships.

So out here in real life, make sure that when we do argue with people and we stick up for ourselves, we do it fairly. We take their feelings into account, but we stand up for ourselves at the same time.

Fairness at home

There is a lot of fairness at home too.

Sometimes I hear my kids talk about chores not being fair at home. What is a fair chore for you to do? A fair chore is one that’s an appropriate challenge for your age and where you’re at.

Sometimes my daughter will get upset that my son has to do a little bit less. Well, he’s three years younger. I’ll remind her that three years ago she was doing the exact chores he’s doing now. She’s now three years older, is a little bit more capable of doing things, so she has more chores she has to do.

Everybody gets what they need and what they deserve, right? And to help her go forward in life, her chores are a little bit more, and a little bit more complicated than his chores. His chores are a little bit more simple, because he’s younger.

Everyone in your house has different chores. Maybe your younger brother or sister is really small, two or three years old, and really can’t do much for themselves, but you have to put your dishes away. Maybe you even have to pick up the dishes for them.

Is that fair? Yes. When you were two or three years old, somebody put the dishes away for you. So now you get to pay it back and do that for them.

Remember fairness at home, fairness in life, is not about everybody getting the same. It’s about everybody getting what they need. Sometimes what you need is an extra challenge over other people. Sometimes the fair thing is to actually give you the more work.

All right?

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