"So my son confessed to stealing gum from the store. He's 5. When I had my back turned he apparently just picked it up and walked out," user userbelowisamonster explained. "I found this out after he was chewing it and offered me a piece (because 5yo logic)," he added.
Upon learning his son had just taken the gum, the dad says, "I told him how proud I was for him telling me the truth, but disappointed that he had to resort to stealing."
But instead of grounding the boy or taking something away, like a treasured toy, the dad decided to fine him for a total of $2.50. "I made him do odd jobs that are appropriate for a five year old and told him until he pays off his debt he doesn't get any privileges like tv, tablet, or playing outside." The child then completed tasks like cleaning his room and picking up his brother's toys as well, as "community service."
"So now he's in his room cleaning it up and I can hear the occasional 'Ugh! I'm never going to steal again!'" the dad recounted, adding, "So there you have it. Child size versions of real life consequences. I'd rather he learn them now than steal as a teenager and face hefty fines, community service, or even jail time."
The dad finishes his post by saying he plans to start giving the boy allowance for doing chores so he can learn about money.
He added, in an edit to the post, "After he earns his money he will go apologize. Dads not paying for this to bail him out :)."
Many commenters to the post supported this dad's approach to discipline.
"Mom did the same thing to me. Shame is a powerful motivator when used properly," one shared.
"I think having him earn the money to cover it is great. He should also go back to the store, advise them of what he did and pay for the item. It's good practice, as when he's an adult I'm sure there will be times here and there when he walks out of the store with something accidentally, and he'll have experience with going back in and paying for it, and that not being the end of the world."
Many commenters added their own experiences of stealing as kids and how vividly they remember the consequences when their parents found out.
Ultimately, I think this dad effectively got his message across to his son. But even he admits he was just making it up as he went along! Yeah, we all do that. No worries!
Melissa Willets is a writer/blogger and soon-to-be mom of 4. Find her on Facebook where she chronicles her life momming under the influence. Of yoga.