Many times when children bring up the, “But so-and-so doesn’t have to do that” debate in relation to chores or rules around the house, parents have to explain to their children that they will have it better in the long run than those friends who don’t help out. Working in general can build character, instill a sense of responsibility, and give children a sense of accomplishment. These are tough concepts to explain to kids though, who usually lack the cognitive advancements necessary to think that far ahead into the future or to think of the long term benefits of something that seems tedious in the short run. The story of Cinderella provides the perfect backdrop to a meaningful discussion of this subject with your child or students.

Kids seem to love the “It’s not fair!” argument. If they see that a younger sibling has less chores than they do, or that a certain child in the classroom gets more help from the teacher or has easier tasks (because of differentiation or such), they bring up the argument of things not being fair. In many of those cases, there is a definite answer as to the discrepancy. However, sometimes there is no easy answer to issues such as why one friend doesn’t have to do dishes at home or why another friend has the latest video games all the time and your child doesn’t.

What reading the story of Cinderella can do, however, is show kids that not complaining or looking to others’ situations is the better way, just like Cinderella didn’t complain about unfairness even when, in her case, things were blatantly unfair. She never complained that her stepsisters didn’t work like her. A lot of times life can seem “unfair” in a kid’s unexperienced eyes, but, as shown in the story, it is possible (and preferable!) to deal with it in a positive way. Cinderella stuck to her strong work ethic and ended up with the better life in the end.

Kids can learn a lot from Cinderella in that she didn’t look to others who had it better than her, but just focused on her own self. Ask your child or students to think about the consequences of everyone always looking to others who have it better, or looking at others thinking how others can do more. Not much would get done! Now have them think of the opposite scenario, if everyone focused on their own self and what they could do. So much more would be accomplished!