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"It's Not Fair!"

"Jake's mom lets him watch a whole hour of TV before school."

"Jon got more gummy snakes in his goody bag than I did."

"Emma can stay up until nine-thirty on weekends."

You know what comes next: "It's not fair!"

Once your child's in school, he'll become keenly aware of who has what—and how much, says Barbara Polland, Ph.D., author of No Directions on the Package: Questions and Answers for Parents With Children From Birth to Age 12. At the same time, he isn't ready to think abstractly or understand nuances: To your grade-schooler, everything is either right or wrong. What you can do to quiet the indignant:

Break the bad news 

Explain that there will always be people who have more or less than he does, but be sure to point out that sometimes he's the one who winds up with the most. It'll take a while for this message to sink in, but eventually he'll be more content with what he has.


When it's feasible, cater to your child's need for fairness. If he complains that you put more juice in his friend's glass than in his, just pour him some more, or have him even it out himself.

Let him earn it

If your child is longing for a toy or something else another kid has, and you approve of it, give him the option of making the money to buy it himself. Not only will he earn the extra bucks, he'll also score an important lesson in the value of delayed gratification.