If you have ever spent more than 5 minutes around a group of children, you have heard at least one of them cry, “Not fair!” If you have more than one child of your own, or worse yet, you live in a “blended family” and have some kids who are yours and some who are not, it is very likely you have also heard this cry many times at home. “Not fair!”
In sober grown-up moments, we all know life is not fair, but when things get out of hand and we feel down, that innocent cry rises up inside us too. “It’s not fair! I’m a good boy/girl. Why is this happening to me? I don’t deserve this”.
Young human beings can only experience the world through their own senses. When they are unhappy, they cry and someone makes everything all right again. Later on, they learn to identify that someone as “Mommy” or “Daddy”, but the world still revolves around them and Mommy and Daddy still do whatever it takes to make the child happy again.
As the grow up, kids begin to notice other people, but they only perceive these other people’s effect on them and do not understand that the other people have their own (different) thoughts and feelings. The most they can imagine is that other people feel exactly the way they feel themselves, that they are as cold, as happy or as sad at the same time.
Experimenters asked children what they believed to be the contents of a box that looked like a particular brand of sweets. After they guessed that the box contained sweets, they were shown that the box in fact contained pencils. The experimenters then closed the box again and asked the children what they thought someone else, who has not seen the contents of the box, would think was inside. Children up to age 4 or even 5 said the other person would say, “Pencils”, because they already knew.
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