Parenting 101... or Something like that.
Jarrod and I found ourselves in one of those situations last week when our oldest "found" $60 laying in the grass outside of our rental house. It was a beautiful Saturday afternoon and there were kids playing everywhere in the neighborhood. The boys had been visiting the local "petting zoo" which was set up by some neighborhood kids and consisting of a cat, dog, and a couple of frogs. Thinking maybe they dropped the money, Jarrod started off across the yard to hunt down the parents and find out. He found out it wasn't theirs and also that Jayden had paid the girls $20 for one of their pet frogs. Making the mysterious money total $80.
Jayden is a very driven child. He is constantly asking for chores to earn money. He saves every penny he finds and he always has a new goal of a toy or game he wants to buy with it. We have had a couple of incidents in the past of him taking $5 or $10 he saw laying around and although we talked to him about taking things that were not his, we felt he was too young to understand it was "stealing". Until last weekend.
We found the $80 missing from Jarrod's wallet and new we had to take control of this situation immediately. We decided not to react immediately but to think about it overnight and decide what would make the most impact on his behavior. Our decision was to not only make him pay back the $80 he stole but that he would also owe us an additional $80. He reluctantly emptied out his piggy bank of $50 and we set up a chore chart with a $5 a week allowance that he would owe us for the next 6 weeks.
It was heart breaking for me. There is nothing worse than seeing your child broken hearted but I also don't want my son being the one in jail at 16 for stealing.
What would you do?