How conditional fairness changes sibling arguments

Jeffrey Kluger, Science Journalist and Author, shares advice for parents on the impact that conditional fairness can have on sibling arguments
Sibling Rivalry Tips | Conditional Fairness Impact On Sibling Arguments
KidsInTheHouse the Ultimate Parenting Resource
Kids in the House Tour

How conditional fairness changes sibling arguments

Children use fairness as a very blunt instrument. A very common cry in a house: But that is not fair. Kids know right, wrong, fair, unfair and that is how they process it. As they get a little bit older, they learn the subtle difference between fairness and conditional fairness, which means yes, this is unfair but in this case it isn´t. Maybe your sister gets to watch TV because she is sick and she is home from school. Maybe your brother gets to stay up later because he is three years older than you and by fifth grade you get to stay up until nine o´clock. Maybe your brother gets another present and you do not because he was denied one in the past. All of these things are very nuanced to a child´s mind and it is a very important developmental step when kids begin to learn that fairness has a certain elasticity to it. When they do understand it, fights tend to diminish because they come into all arrangments knowing not everything is going to be exactly equitable all the time. But it is a very, very hard road to get there. And there is a lot of backsliding. It is, however, a very natural developmental step and when they learn it, they tend to keep it.

Jeffrey Kluger, Science Journalist and Author, shares advice for parents on the impact that conditional fairness can have on sibling arguments


Expert Bio

More from Expert

Jeffrey Kluger

Science Journalist & Author

Jeffrey Kluger is a senior editor and writer at Time magazine, covering science, health and other fields. He is the coauthor, along with astronaut Jim Lovell, of Apollo 13, the book that served as the basis of the 1995 movie. His more-recent release, Splendid Solution, told the story of Jonas Salk and the Polio Vaccine.  His novel, Nacky Patcher and the Curse of the Dry-Land Boats, was published in June 2007, and his newest nonfiction book, Simplexity: Why Simple Things Become Complex, was published in June 2008.

Before coming to Time, Kluger worked for Discover magazine, where he was a senior editor and humor columnist. Prior to that, he was health editor at Family Circle magazine, story editor at The New York Times Business World Magazine, and Associate Editor at Science Digest magazine. His features and columns have appeared in dozens of publications, including The New York Times Magazine, Gentlemen's Quarterly, The Wall Street Journal, Cosmopolitan, Omni, McCall's, New York Magazine, The New York Post, Newsday, and, of course, Time. He has worked as an adjunct instructor in the graduate journalism program at New York University; is a licensed—though non-practicing—attorney; and is a graduate of the University of Maryland and the University of Baltimore School of Law. He lives in New York City with his wife Alejandra and their daughters, Elisa and Paloma.

More Parenting Videos from Jeffrey Kluger >
Enter your email to
download & subscribe
to our newsletter