This dad punished his small, 5-year-old son for stealing. Why?
About six months ago, my youngest son was going through a “I love eating mints” phase. How odd, you might think, that I tell you this. But wait – I also have a story to tell you.
I’m not a mean mom. When he was in this phase, I did buy him mints occasionally. But if he were to have his way, he would have eaten them for all three meals. So of course I had to impose limits. Which meant my little Dragon baby decided to take matters into his own hands.
So here’s my mom confession: My little boy, determined to satisfy his craving for mints, has ‘stolen’ them not once, but thrice from a supermarket! The first time, he quickly grabbed a pack off the shelves, scooted to a quiet corner and proceeded to scoff them down. Then, he showed me the empty packet.
The second time, he took a pack without me seeing, then, tried to nonchalantly pop it in a bag of already paid for items (of course in plain sight of everyone in typical 5-year-old style).
The third time, he managed to hide it in his pocket and we almost made it to the car before he sweetly offered me a mint. He was frog-marched back to the supermarket where he had to return the mints to the manager and apologise.
On all three occasions, I talked to him about what he did and why it was wrong. I might even have talked about policemen and jail…(okay, I’m not a perfect mom!).
But anyway, maybe because he’s now older, or maybe the ‘chats’ worked, we’ve had no more ‘stealing’ episodes lately.
I wish I had read this dad’s account before I had those chats with my little boy. His way of dealing with his tiny ‘thief’ is just brilliant I thought and reminded me so much of my own little boy.
This dad shared his experience on Reddit recently, in a post aptly titled “Parenting, just making it up as we go. Theft edition."
Just like what happened with my little robber, this dad realized his 5-year-old had been up to no good when he offered him a piece of gum while walking out of the store.
"When I had my back turned he apparently just picked it up and walked out," he wrote. "I found this out after he was chewing it and offered me a piece (because 5-year-old logic). So I asked him if he paid for it and he told me no. I told him how proud I was for him telling me the truth, but disappointed that he had to resort to stealing."
This dad then had a good think about how he could discipline his son, and came up with this brilliant method.
“I figured how much the gum cost and added on $0.50 for a ‘fine.’ So total came to $2.50.
“I made him do odd jobs that are appropriate for a 5-year-old and told him until he pays off his debt he doesn't get any privileges like TV, tablet, or playing outside.
“So he worked off $1.50 and then I told him for "community service" he needs to clean his room by himself and clean up his brother's toys, too. I told him that this would also count for his last dollar. So now he's in his room cleaning it up and I can hear the occasional ‘Ugh! I'm never going to steal again!’”
What this dad did was implement child-size versions of real life consequences.
He says that he’d rather his boy learned them now, than steal as a teenager when he would be slapped with fines, community service and even jail time, and I think this makes perfect sense.
He also balanced out his ‘punishment’ by turning it into a positive – he started giving his son an allowance for completing his chores and teaching him about money and proper finances.
What about ‘confessing to his crimes” to the store management?
"After he earns his money he will go apologize. Dad's not paying for this to bail him out."
Spot on, Dad!
Republished with permission from: theAsianParent Singapore