Education

You’ve got to be carefully taught

Study indicates that children understand fairness as early as age 12 months

Students at Jamison Street Preschool in west Pensacola engage in center-based, interactive learning throughout the day. Credit: Shannon Nickinson.

“No fair!” is something every parent has heard — a few million times.

Now an article in the journal Scientific American says as early as age 12 months, children understand the concept of fairness. And they don’t like it when other kids get short-shrift.

“We are now sitting on a mountain of evidence from our studies as well as those conducted by others that suggests fair behavior has deep roots in development. Infants as young as 12 months expect resources to be divided equally between two characters in a scene. By preschool, children will protest getting less than peers, even paying to prevent the peer from getting more. As children get older, they are willing to punish those who have been unfair both when they are the victims of unfairness as well as when they witness someone else being treated unfairly. Older still, children show what we described above: They would rather receive nothing than receive more than a peer.”

The article, bKatherine McAuliffePeter R. BlakeFelix Warneken  is linked here.

One of the great things about our work at the Studer Community Institute is how much we’ve been able to learn in recent years about young children and the way their brains grow.

The more we learn about the way that a child’s cognitive skills develop — what influences their growth and wires their brain — the more clear it becomes that children are learning from the earliest moments.

Which all serves to inspire and inform us and our work even more.

It tells us that giving parents, families and caregivers the tools and techniques is some of the most important work we can do to improve our community — one baby, one brain, one family at a time.