By Sabrina Schlesinger
MY KID IS A KLEPTO!!!
Ok....not really, but let me tell you what happened recently in our home.
My son, who is super sweet and five, was at preschool for the day. When dad picked him up and brought him home, he was not so subtly protecting his pocket. (Don't you just love the age where they give themselves away!) 😏 After further investigation we discovered that our little guy swiped a Lego from school that he really wanted to add to his collection.
In our home we honor God and His Bible. We believe that having a healthy fear of the Lord will actually save our lives. Although we are forgiven of our sins, we often still have to face consequences for our actions and the choices we have made.
Proverbs 1:7 says The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom...
So here is how I handled this situation...With calm and concern I shared with him first that stealing is a sin. I also told him he broke the law. I said that because I am a good mommy, I am not going to protect him from the consequences. When I told him I was going to have to call the police to let them know my son broke the law, the tears started flowing. He was soooooo worried that he would have to go to jail. I could have stopped there and a lesson could have been learned, but at his age, preschool and elementary, these are crucial times for our kids to learn BIG lessons that don't have the same weight of consequence as it will when they are older.
I knew it wasn't the time to OVERREACT emotionally, but it was the right time to make a BIG DEAL of it. So I called "Officer Smith" (a.k.a. Dad who was in the garage) right then and there. When Officer Smith wanted to talk with the boy who broke the law (in a hilarious accent) our son stood at attention and answered every questions with respect. My son "pwomised" he would never steal again. Officer Smith said that rather than going to jail this time...since it was his first (and hopefully last) offense, he would give him one hour of community service, return the stolen item, and have a time out. Lesson learned and now our front driveway is swept clean! I call that a win-win! 👊🏻😏
How we react when our kids mess up is so important. Yes, I made this a really big deal, but I didn't scream at him, I didn't get shocked by his choices, I wasn't even stern in my tone. I know that if I overreact emotionally at failures and mess ups, I am communicating nonverbally to my kids, "I am not a safe place to fail." That is the LAST thing I want my kids to get from me. I want them to run to me when/if they mess up, big or small, and know that I won't ever reject them and will love them through it all. But I also want my kids to know that I am not going to rescue them and enable their bad choices. Because when I do stand in the way between their choices and receiving their consequences, I am harming them.
At this age when they are small, the aftermath of their choices don't have much weight or longevity...but as they get older, their decisions will have bigger ramifications. My job is to teach them the hard lessons NOW so the police, their employer or the judge doesn't have to teach them the hard lessons THEN. I am choosing to parent my kids with 20 years in mind rather than 20 minutes.