One of the hardest things about raising kids is figuring out how to make them learn from their mistakes. This is especially hard for me, because I’m perfect and never make mistakes ever. I count on other parents to give me advice on how to handle the sticky situations my kids get into in the hopes that any mistakes they make will be one-time affairs. So when I came across a subreddit in r/parenting entitled “Parenting, just making it up as we go. Theft Edition” I knew I needed to read it. This dad came up with a very creative punishment after he caught his kid stealing.

Reddit user userbelowisamonster took his son with him to the store, where he stole a pack of gum when his dad wasn’t looking. After catching him (“he was chewing it and offered me a piece”), he tried to figure out an appropriate punishment. He wrote, “I want him to understand real world consequences of theft, but not through just being grounded or taking something away.” So he put together a pretty ingenious plan.

that's one way to do it

Image: reddit / @userbelowisamonster

“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 five 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.”

Userbelowisamonster noted that as his son cleaned, he heard the occasional:

“Ugh! I’m never going to steal again!”

The dad noted that he considered this “child-size versions of real life consequences,” and said he’d rather his son learn now than “as a teenager and face hefty fines, community service, or even jail time.” He also said that he wants to turn this experience into something positive, and start giving his son an allowance for doing chores in order to teach him about money and finances.

And, like a typical parent, the dad added, “after he earns his money, he will go apologize. Dad’s not paying for this to bail him out.”

(Image: iStock / gemphotography)