Preparing for a relocation – When to tell the Kids?

The last months before summer is that time when many people in the international community are preparing for a move. Perhaps this article for which I  was interviewed 2 years ago can give you some insights to help your children make the transition.

In addition to the timing aspect of when to tell your children about an upcoming move I would like to add that it is a very personal question. You want to avoid telling your (young) children at the latest moment. They too need time to prepare and to say goodbye. At the same time, knowing about a move too far in advance may confuse them and bring insecurity in their lives. The author of the article writes I suggested that 4-5 year olds need a 2-3 weeks advance notice before an international move. Although I can’t remember what I said at the time of the interview, I have the feeling the numbers should have been the other way around (2-3 year olds can be prepared 4-5 weeks in advance).

Here are some questions that may help you decide when to tell your children about an upcoming move:

– Is my child someone who needs plenty of preparation to feel safe, or do they generally accept smaller and bigger changes easily?

– How do you as parents feel about the impending move? If you are someone who wants to prepare every detail before your move and feel worried that there is not enough time, your child is likely to notice ‘something is up’ and it might be helpful for them to understand what it is.

– How certainare you about the move? If you know that you will be moving next year, are already looking at a new home in the new location, etc. then it could help to include your child already at an early stage. However, not knowing if, when and where to you will move can provide feelings of insecurity, for you and for your child too. In this case it can be better to wait telling your child or to consider carefully what and how you will tell your child.

Also consider how you will tell your young child; young children may not understand the language we use to explain about a move (moving is quite an abstract concept). Consider using books and other visual input to help your child understand.

Jet Sichterman – 04 May 2017

Do you want to know more about how to prepare your children for an international move?
Perhaps our parent support sessions can be helpful.

SOS! December is here… (how to help your children stay grounded)

By Jet Sichterman

You may have noticed by the cold weather outside, by the frosting on your car in the morning, by the full trains or extensive traffic jams in rush hour, by the advertisements in your mailbox or by the big to do list waiting for you at home and at work. Or, you may have noticed by the volume of your children’s voices as they are busy doing anything they are not supposed to do while you frantically try to set things straight but they simply won’t let you.

Yes, indeed, December is here.

December seems to have a special influence on children. All that was normal is suddenly not so normal. All that was routine suddenly does not apply or has been forgotten. Anticipation and nerves are building up for the holidays… And while you have no tools at your disposal to contain or express these emotions in appropriate, adult ways, this is exactly what the adults around you appear to be expecting of you.  All of this can lead to more loud, active and possibly oppositional behavior (and the flu!) in the weeks before the New Year.

So what does your child really need from you in this time?

Your child needs you to:
– Stick to the normal rules and routines as much as possible:
The more ‘normal’ things can stay, the more normal your child will be able to go through the month of December. Of course it is often hard to stay on track with regular routines with holidays here and there, events for you at work or with your friend group, you needing to do Christmas shopping, etc.

When things cannot remain the same, it will help your child to stick (as much as possible) to regular bed times and routines during the week so they can be well rested. It will also help them to know that exceptions are going to be made; your child wants to know how, when and why these exceptions are taking place.

– Be proactive
Instead of waiting for the trouble to start, your child needs you to be proactive about things. Provide for extra preparation and support for usual and not-so-usual tasks, allow extra time for usual tasks and routines to be completed, or actively decide to let some of the demands placed on your child go – and get back to them in January.

– Create a safe space when your child is experiencing a meltdown
Your child needs you to understand and accept that he/she feels emotions more intensely this season than others. He/she needs you to allow him/her to express these emotions now and then, and to be there for him/her when this happens.

Your child also very much needs you to understand that your own emotions might be more intense too, or that you might feel more stressed than usual. Your emotional experience directly and indirectly influences your child’s emotions.

Your child also needs you to remember that experiencing emotions is part of being human.

– Stay patient and calm, if you can
This might be the hardest step of all, but it will certainly help.

For example, parents who feel stressed about everything they still need to do before Christmas are likely to respond less patient when their child misbehave. And when this happens, the child who resonates with the parent’s feelings will be more likely to show oppositional behavior. It then becomes very easy for the child and the parent to enter a negative spiral from which a small thing eventually ends up in a big shouting match.

Remember, it will only be one month before things start getting back to normal!

Expat Child Psychology wishes you a happy holiday season
and best wishes for 2019!


Are you ready for a good start of the New Year? Our parent support sessions can help you set up to succeed!
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Practicing Non-Verbal Skills through games

By Sara Mansson

We have talked about social skills before, see for example this post on negotiating, this one about stimulating your child’s emotional development or this one about saying goodbye.

There are several ways of communicating with others, many of which go far beyond our words. In fact, some would estimate that as much as 90% of social success is dependent on non-verbal skills rather than verbal ones. Although these numbers are debated by others, non-verbal communication is an important part of everyday communications and without it we (and our children) would often miss opportunities of true connection.

Although most children will learn these skills just fine by themselves, today we will explore which fun games may help your child feel more confident and comfortable using several  non-verbal skills that are fundamental to being socially successful.

Eye contact
Eye contact can tell us much about our interaction with someone else. It serves the purpose of being a channel of emotional communication: “are you really angry or are you only joking?”; of romantic interest; of power in terms of dominance and submission; and of communicating attention, and more. One of the most prominent functions of eye contact when having a conversation is to show that one is listening.

Simon Says
Simon says normally goes like this: the game leader (‘Simon’) determines what will happen. He/she will ask others to do an action like walking, jumping, turning, etc. by saying ‘Simon says walk’. But he/she will also try to fool the others by saying only ‘walk’. When the game leader does not start by saying ‘Simon Says …’ the others are not supposed to do it.
In this version of the game, the Simon has to blink exaggeratedly when the others are supposed to do the action, instead of saying “Simon Says” out loud.

Wink murder
Another game that helps children feel more comfortable with eye contact is wink murderer. In this game,  a detective has to find out who in the group is “killing” other group members by winking at them.

Body language & posture
We show much of what we are feeling and thinking with our body. Think about your child’s posture when he is feeling proud of an achievement as opposed to when he is feeling ashamed about accidentally breaking a glass. Noticing others’ body postures is one way of getting a glimpse into what others are feeling without actually having to ask them.

emotion-conesYou can teach your child the importance of paying attention to others’ body language by playing games like charades where body language and posture are central parts to figuring out the correct answer (think of answers like Diary of a Wimpy Kid, Sleeping Beauty, The Hungry Caterpillar for charades with book titles). It will be a fun way to engage the whole family in reading body language without drawing attention to the learning aspect.

Exploring Posture
The players are asked to walk around the room. Every half a minute or so, the game leader suggests a posture the players have to take on. For example, they could ‘walk as a turtle’ or ‘stand like a tree’. Ask the players to pay attention to how the different postures make them feel. Afterwards, reflect on the postures by asking questions like: ‘which posture made you feel very scared?’ or ‘which one made you feel the most powerful?’ etc.

Facial expressions & emotion recognition
Our facial expressions often reveal much about what we’re thinking and feeling (even involuntarily!), so they’re useful to be able to read and express correctly. Research has even found that children who are skilled at reading others’ faces are more likely to be considered as popular.

school-busThe Emotion Bus
The Emotion Bus is a fun game for a small group of children. One child or adult is the bus driver and sits in front of the imaginary bus (the bus can be defined by chairs, pillows, hoops, cloths, or something else). The bus driver picks up all the passengers (other players) one by one. Each passenger that comes in, buys a ticket and takes place in the bus is experiencing a new emotion and everyone in the bus, including the driver, mimic the emotion. For example, if a new passenger comes in crying, all passengers on the bus will begin to cry. When all passengers are picked up, they could be dropped off one by one showing an emotion while they get off the bus too.

Guess my emotion
To teach your child about reading facial expressions, you could together create flashcards with the most basic emotions: happiness, sadness, anger, fear, disgust, surprise. You could then play a game in which one person has to think of a scenario in which a person feels this emotion, and the other player can get points by correctly mimicking the emotion on their face. For example, for the card that reads disgust, player one could say “Someone who just stepped in dog mess.” and then player two has to correctly guess that it is disgust by pulling a disgusted face. Once your child has learned these basic emotions, you could make the game more challenging by adding more complex emotions, such as jealousy, confusion, pride, and such.

If you find that your child struggles with making friends, negative thoughts, negotiating, bullying and teasing, or just interacting with others, you may contact Expat Child Psychology to learn more about how your child could benefit from one of our Social Skills 4 Kids courses, starting this fall!

Four Tips on Stimulating Emotional Development

We all want our children to grow up to be healthy, well-adjusted adults. The ability to understand their own emotions and to express them in accordance with the local culture and social norms is an important step towards becoming that. We know that young children need our help to express and manage their emotions.  Yet when children grow older we sometimes expect them to ‘behave’ and tend to forget that learning how to manage our emotions is a life-long process, something not even all adults have mastered well.

Emotional Development - Expat Child PsychologySo what can you do to make sure you won’t expect more of your children than they can offer in the heat of the moment? Here are four suggestions that will help you stimulate your child’s emotional development:

1) Name the feeling
The first step of managing emotions is to identify the emotions. Your child may be experiencing all kinds of bodily sensations without knowing where they come from or what they mean. As a parent, you will often know that the situation your child is facing would lead to an angry feeling, a happy, a sad or a scary one, or perhaps even a combination of several feelings at once (it does require a bit of perspective-taking from your end). By naming those feelings your child will learn which bodily sensation and type of situation corresponds to which emotion.

Instead of:
‘STOP! NAGGING! You are NOT getting another cookie!’

‘I see that you are very disappointed about not getting another cookie.’

2) Validate the feeling
Let your child know you understand they feel this way, for example by mirroring the facial expression and using a soothing tone of voice. This validation of the emotion will help your child feel understood and gain some control over their sensations. It also tells your child that it is okay to experience (this) emotion.

Instead of:
‘There is no need to cry!’

‘I understand you feel this way, I would be so sad too if I could not get what I wanted.’

3) Give feedback on negative behaviors
Even though your child may not yet have learned how to control their emotions or how to express them appropriately, some expressions are simply harmful or unacceptable. You have to tell your child about this.

Instead of:
‘Stop screaming!’

‘It is not helpful to scream so loud, it hurts my ears and it hurts your voice.’

4) Provide alternative ways to express
Now that your child knows it is okay to experience the emotion and that it is not okay to express those emotions in specific ways. However, your child does not know what to do instead. Therefore, it is helpful to provide an alternative.

Instead of:
‘Stop screaming!

‘Instead of screaming, you could try ….’

Alternative options (depending on the age & your own preference):
– A verbal response: saying ‘I don’t like this’ or ‘It makes me feel angry’, etc.
– A physical response: punching a boxing ball or pillow, running a distance, squeezing a stress ball, etc.
– A cognitive response: count to 10, distract yourself, etc.

Can’t you two just get along?

Guestpost by Sara Mansson

Last time, we talked about some day to day examples of things you can do to help your children learn good negotiation skills. One thing that helps children learn this is experiencing problems that need solving. One of our tips then was to wait and step back when your child lands in a discussion to allow them to solve it by themselves. But sometimes heated arguments break out even amongst the most skilled negotiators and when strong emotions, shouting and aggression start to play a role it might be better to step in. How can you help your children in the heat of the moment?

Upset negotiation fightCool down. When you notice the emotions running high and want to prevent a full escalation, or when a fight is already taking place, ask your children to take some time to breathe in and out, cool down, and count to ten. Following this, you can let each child state their points in a calm manner while the other has to listen.

Remind. When a negotiation involves an emotionally laden topic, emotions can run high, which in turn means negotiation skills drop. It can then be helpful to ask your children to take a step back and reflect on what their goal of the negotiation is, and reminding them to keep the tone of their voice as calm as possible when they have decided what to say. You can then give your child reminders on the tips you previously discussed regarding the mastering of their new negotiation skills.

Siblings negotiateSuggest. Sometimes children do not know how to solve the problem, which options other than ‘my way’ or ‘their way’ are available? Usually there are three more options: a mix of the two (first this, then the other), something else entirely (not A or B, but C) or nothing at all (agreeing to disagree, not playing with each other for now).

Obtaining the ability to successfully negotiate is a very important life skill for your children. Not only will it give you a calmer home environment, but it will also give your child insight into how to make their own wishes heard in a composed, mature manner but also how to listen to and consider their siblings’ views. Successful negotiation in which both parties are happy will leave your children feeling independent and confident.


Expat Child Psychology offers Social Skills 4 Kids group courses for children aged 9 to 12 which helps, among other things, to improve their problem solving skills.

Starting School in a New Language: Teacher tips

In my last post, I talked about what you can do as parents when your child is going to enter a school in a language that they do not yet understand. This time, my tips are for teachers who are teaching one or some children who do not yet speak the language of the classroom.

There are two terms used for when children follow education in a second language, immersion and submersion. Immersion happens when a teacher who is trained to teach in pupil’s second languages teaches a class full of children in their second language. For example, some schools offer immersion classes for children who recently entered the Netherlands and need to learn to speak Dutch. After one or two years in this class, their level of Dutch is deemed high enough to follow the classes with native Dutch speakers. Many schools do not offer these immersion classes but do accept non-Dutch speakers in their classrooms, especially when they are still young. This situation is called submersion; one or a few children who do not speak the main language of the class enter a class with native speakers. Obviously, this last situation can be quite challenging for both teacher as well as children.

When you have children in your class that follow the submersion path to learning a language, the following tips might help stimulate the child’s language learning:

  1. Be mindful to face the class when explaining something
    This way, the children who do not speak the language yet can benefit maximally from your non-verbal communications.
  2. Use visuals
    Use visuals (pictures, photos or items) of the things you mention while explaining something, especially in the one-on-one situations with these students.
  3. Repeat instructions
    After the explanation for the whole group, take some time to repeat the instructions individually to the students who are not competent in the class language yet. Use visuals and your body language (pointing, signs like ‘looking’, ‘eating’ or ‘stop’) to help the message come across.
  4. Create a safe environment
    It is easy for children to feel unsafe when they are taught in a different language, or to experience communication frustration, when the child is unable to inform you or other children of their needs and desires. Creating and maintaining a safe environment where the child can experiment with the new language without running the risk to be laughed at or ridiculed will be one of the most important things you can do for these students.
  5. Don’t pressure
    Being too strict about having the children communicate in the main language harms the safe environment that you want to maintain. Being pressured in something which is still too difficult can lead to anxiety and resistance to try the new language.
  6. Invite & recognize communication
    Instead of forcing the child to speak the class language, be inviting for the students to communicate whichever way they feel they can handle and open your eyes and ears to different forms of communication (all behavior in interaction with others is communication, we just do not always know what it means). This way, the child will start to feel comfortable and understood and safe to try a few words in your language.
  7. Reserve one-on-one time
    Reserve some time in the student’s weekly schedule for one-on-one time with a tutor who can, in a relaxed and playful manner, help explore the new language.

Play & Education

Before, in the blog ‘About Toys’ I already said it: play is one of the most important means of child development. Children learn and develop through their exploration of toys and games, their language, physical abilities, social skills, cultural awareness, every part of development can be addressed by play. As Paula Vergunst & I will be giving a workshop (08/11/2013) exactly on this topic, here’s a little warming up in advance.

Someone who has done a lot of research on the topics of play, child development and education is Peter Gray. Peter Gray is an evolutionary psychologist, associated with Boston College. I have met with Peter Gray on a few occasions and his knowledge about playfulness and education always impress me.  Currently I am reading his newest book called‘Free to Learn, why unleashing the instinct to play will make our children happier, more self-reliant, and better students for life’. 

As a result of his own research and personal experiences with his own son, Gray became increasingly concerned about the amount of time children spent playing nowadays and the quality of that play. He spent years of his career studying childhood, childhood education and child development from an evolutionary perspective. Evolutionary psychologists look at why certain psychological concepts and behaviors have occurred in terms of evolution & natural selection – similar to a biologists view on the physical characteristics of species. Gray used reports from anthropologists and knowledge from history to view how children were education in different times and cultures. The results of his study are very interesting and show that our society’s view on education is by far not the most natural or pleasant option for educating children.  In fact it shows that children can – and will, if allowed to – do most of their education themselves.

SAM_0466In short, Gray saw that children in (present day) hunter gatherer societies all over the world got lots of time for free play. In fact – even adults had lots of time for free play because hunting and gathering were not as time consuming as farming (though more of a risk, you never knew if you would find food). It is assumed that hunter-gatherer societies of our ancestors were quite similar to the ones that are still around today. Which means that before agricultural periods there was no formal way of educating children and most of their education came from within; kids desire to be similar to their mums and dads. They play and act out scenes they have seen or heard of, such as how to hunt and how to take care of kids. They learn from older kids who have played it many times before. They play it so often that they know how it works halfway in puberty when they are allowed to participate in the real thing – still in a playful manner. And gradually play becomes the real thing.

Over time, perceptions of child play and education changed together with other major changes in society. Agriculture was hard work, children in these societies often needed to work too and there was not much time for play. Industrialization came with education the way we know it now, but based on strict religious beliefs that the main thing children were supposed to learn was obedience to their superiors; harsh methods were used to educate children.

© Kutt Niinepuu | Dreamstime Stock Photos

Since the early twentieth century when education became mandatory in most Western countries, more and more demands are made of the education of our children; more hours at school, more homework… Next to that, children are very busy these days; going to daycare (still an adult-supervised situation) or sports (yet another one). Time for free unsupervised play is becoming more and more limited. This is one of Gray’s biggest concerns; his research shows that children educate (=learn everything there is to learn in order to be a successful person in society) themselves and adults are not supposed to interfere unless asked.

Looking back at our own childhoods, aren’t the moments of free play the moments we remember best? Aren’t these the moments we may remember as the most enjoyable, but also the moments we learned our most valued lessons?

This post was originally published on my old website on September 16th, 2013.

Of course this blog only gives a very limited view of the findings of Peter Gray, considering he wrote a whole book about it. If you’re interested, you can order his book online or in the Netherlands at the American Book Center (The Hague / Amsterdam).

Interested in the Play & Parenting Workshop? Click here to see whether it is scheduled again or ask us to present for your group/company.

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It’s not fair! – Part 2.

In my last blog, I explained how young children can only view the world from their own perspective because they have not yet developed a so called ‘theory of mind’. This is why young children have a different idea of what is fair than adults. Of course, if you’re the only one with needs and wishes, it certainly isn’t fair if you cannot have everything. When children start to understand that other people have their own unique individuality with their own thoughts, needs and wants, children start to see fair as something that involves others as well. Usually the rule of thumb to determine fairness becomes ‘sharing equally’. However, this still differs from what adults consider as fair. So what is this next stage in development of the concept of fairness all about?

Thanks to ~Masscreation

Fairness for adults
After developing the theory of mind, children seem to use a rule to determine what is fair, namely ‘sharing equally’ or equality.  In many situations, this rule is used by adults as well. When two people compete over one cookie, let’s break it and both eat half of it. But in other situations our concept of fairness is more complex.

For example, in earlier times people would get ‘an eye for an eye’, which literally meant that if you did something bad to someone, the same bad would be done to you. Nowadays, most of us do not believe this is fair anymore and we have a judicial system with its courts and prisons to help us understand what is fair in a criminal situation.

Another example are the social services. Most adults do believe in some form of social services, whether it is for child benefit, for the elderly, for the sick or the poor. Many of us will benefit from social services at least once in their lives. Considering fairness as the rule of equality, this hardly seems fair. How can it be fair if some (the poor) get money for free whereas others (the not-so poor) have to work very hard to earn their wages? So what does guide our thoughts when the rule of equality does not apply? The influential theory of Kohlberg’s moral stages of development might help us understand.

Kohlberg’s moral stages of development
Kohlberg said that children when they grow up move through different stages of moral development. These stages are tied up with the concept of fairness, or perhaps we should say ‘justice’, even before the theory of mind is fully developed. Kohlberg defined six stages, and believed that most people would move through the first four stages during childhood. However, the fifth and sixth stage would not be reached by everyone and Kohlberg himself never found enough people who had reached the sixth stage to prove this stage was actually real.

dreamstimefree_14673 (2)

© Dana Rothstein | Dreamstime Stock Photos

  1. Preconventional morality: during this stage, children let their ideas of right and wrong (and fair and unfair) be decided by the punishments or rewards it produces. Taking everything must be unfair, because it produces punishment. Sharing equally is often rewarded in young children, so must be right.
  2. Individualism and exchange: children in this stage may have already developed (parts of a) theory of mind, and know other people have other perspectives. However, self interest is still a strong guide in their reasoning about morality. The four year old who thought giving away his third train was unfair because then he only had two might have found himself in this stage.
  3. Good interpersonal relationships: children usually enter this stage when they are also entering their teenage years. Relationships become more important and this is what guides thinking about fairness and justice. Somethingunlawful might still be seen as fair when the intentions were good, such as in Kohlberg’s own example; stealing medicine might be seen as fair when they are stolen with the intention to save another’s life.
  4. Maintaining the social order: in this stage, people become concerned about society and maintaining social order. We should uphold the law and use democratic principles to change things that are ‘wrong’ in the law, because this is how we all agreed to do things so doing it this way is fair and just.
  5.  Social contract and individual rights: this stage continues upon the previous, but now people start to look at the wider picture. Sometimes laws and individual rights may be conflicting; which perspective should we take now? People at this stage invented social services and welfare, and are the ones to believe in it and uphold it, whereas people in stage 4 merely feel that social services are ‘fair’ because they are part of our social order which should be upheld.
  6. Universal principles: Kohlberg believed in a sixth stage in which people are guided by universal principles in their moral reasoning and their beliefs about fairness and justice. However, he could not find enough people who had actually reached this stage to further define and prove the existence of this stage.

What is fair?
By now we have seen that at least two influential developmental theories seem to play a role in the development of the concept of fairness. No wonder that we at times cannot comprehend children’s beliefs that ‘it is not fair!’, or even other adult’s. So the question remains; what is fair? It could be something different to all of us. I think it is important to keep this in mind in your communication with others, children especially. They are not lying when they say something is not fair, or looking for attention, they really believe so. Perhaps a little bit of extra explanation and support can help them overcome this feeling and help them learn to take another perspective.

This post was originally published on my old website on Sep 2nd, 2013.

For more reading about Kohlberg’s stages of Moral Development, here’s an interesting chapter!

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It’s not fair!

It’s not fair!’ is a commonly heard exclamation by young children. It is perhaps the most common cause for fights among siblings. But when we try to look at the situation from our adult point of view it might seem very fair. Is a child’s concept of fairness different from that of an adult? How does a concept such as the one of fairness develop in young children? Within a series of two blogs, I will attempt to answer these questions, looking at two influential developmental theories.

freeimage-5929189-webA toddler’s idea of fairness
Whenever I hear a kid say ‘it’s not fair!’ in a situation that does seem fair enough to me, I remember an incident from the daycare center I used to work at.

Many of the kids were – as always – playing with the train tracks when one of them started crying. I walked over and asked him what was wrong. He told me that another kid, a big five year old, took his toy train and now he had none. Apparently all the other wagons were being used by the other kids, and the culprit in question was now owner of three of them. As I was not sure what had happened I decided not to punish anyone and teach a lesson in fairness and sharing instead. I asked the kid with three wagons whether the other boy could have one, because he had three and the other kid had none. He did give the third wagon away, but then started crying. I was confused, had I missed something? Then he told me how it was not fair, because now he only had two wagons and he wanted three! I tried to tell him that if anything, it was not fair to the other boy because he still only had one wagon and this guy had two, but my efforts were in vain. He was not yet ready to see fairness as a concept that relates to everyone in the situation, his concept of fairness only involved himself.

The clue of the difference between our beliefs about fairness in this and many similar situations lies within the development of a ‘Theory of Mind’.

Theory of mind
When a child is born he believes to be at the center of the universe. There is no recognition of other people’s needs and wants, of their unique individuality and thoughts. If anything, the child believes everyone wants, needs and thinks the same. When the child becomes a toddler, she becomes more aware of the world around her. She starts realizing other people are different and have their own ‘minds’ which are separate from hers. This understanding that other people are different and have their own needs, wants and thoughts is called theory of mind. The development of a theory of mind is a process that takes several years, starting between the second and third year and not entirely finished until the end of preschool.

The concept of fairness develops in combination with the theory of mind. At first, when the child is the center of his own universe, him having everything he desires is the only fair he knows. If a young child wants something, say a stuffed animal, it seems very fair to him to have the animal even if someone else doesn’t. After all, he believes others want the same thing, thus they must want him to have the animal and not someone else!


With thanks to ~Picturesbyclay

The concept of fairness becomes more complex over time. By the end of this process, usually around 6 or 7 years of age, children seem to think fair is when each person has an equal share of something. No longer does the child they believe everyone thinks and wants the same, and he understands now that others want things for themselves too. Realizing that this is not always possible, children this age start looking for the best solution which keeps everybody as happy as possible. Of course, it can still be difficult to understand if something is actually fair when the child has not learned division yet, and even though the child may know sharing equally is fairer than not sharing, he might not always want to act accordingly!

Equality is fair
After children have developed a theory of mind, they are no longer the center of their own universe. They no longer think it is fair if they have everything they want and they now understand that others have wants and needs for themselves. Children of around 6 or 7 years old understand that sharing equally is fair although they might not always be happy to do so. And who could argue with that, don’t we all have something we wouldn’t want to share with anyone?

Yet, adults still have a more complex concept of fairness at this point. Each having an equal part is not always seen as the fairest solution. Concepts like ‘an eye for an eye’ are history and today we have social services giving away money or goods for free to some whereas others have to work and pay for it. Many people believe this is fair, considering that those who benefit from social services have nothing to begin with. Another important developmental theory seems to play a role in this later development of the concept of fairness. Read more about this in my next blog!

This post was originally published on my old website, Aug 19th, 2013.

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