Scenario 1: Three young children (ages 4, 6, 8) and three glasses of chocolate milk.

Which of the following is fair?

  1. All three glasses of chocolate milk are exactly the same size
  2. There is a small, medium, and a large glass of chocolate milk.

Scenario 2: Three children (ages 4, 6, 8). You’re serving cookies for dessert after dinner. One child has eaten cookies (or another dessert treat) already that day. The other two children have not.

Which of the following is fair?

  1. Everyone gets to eat cookies for dessert
  2. Only the children who haven’t already eaten their treats get cookies

Most of the parents I know would choose option 1 in both scenarios.

They’re thinking of fair as equal.

  • Everyone gets the same size glass of chocolate milk.
  • If anyone gets cookies than everyone gets cookies.

But I would argue that fair means getting what is right for you: Option 2.

  • Small children get smaller glasses of chocolate milk because it’s the right amount for their tummies.
  • Children who have eaten treats earlier in the day have already eaten the amount that’s right for them.

It’s easy to think that children can’t cope with this kind of “disparity.”

But they can. Indeed, children cope with disparities all the time (older children go to bed later than younger children; adults drink alcohol and they don’t).

One reason children complain about disparities is because, when it comes to eating—and especially when it comes to sweets and treats—we allow them to believe that fair=equal.

Teach them otherwise and they’ll complain less. They’ll also have learned a valuable lesson about eating right.

~Changing the conversation from nutrition to habits.~