My 6 year old grabbed a candy bar from the checkout line at the grocery today and snuck it to the car with him. I found him hiding it (still wrapped) when we got to the house, so I unloaded the groceries and drove right back to the store. He gave it to the customer service lady and confessed he stole it and was giving it back. He's had a bad habit of stealing sweet treats within the house and so has been cut off cold turkey from most desserts off and on over the last few weeks. He was pretty stoic about getting caught and having to return it, I dunno if it had been me I would have been terrified and embarrassed. Now that it's been made right I wonder if there should be further punishment about this particular incident? Grounding from sweets just makes him find ways to sneak anything sweet around at all - even sugar or lots of fruit. Getting screen time is what matters most to him. We had also planned to go to the playground but now after that debacle it's getting too late.
if you read Louise Ames Bates your five year old... you will learn that stealing is very common amongst 5 year olds. it turns to shoplifting when they are 11.
i remember me stealing a carrot and my brother the thinest longest eggplant. my mom gave us such a talking that we never did it again. i dont think we had ever really heard stealing was bad. we kinda knew but didnt know how bad it was.
i think what you did was fine. nothing more is needed.
When you grow up and steal from grocery stores, you typically have to pay a fine to the store that you stole from even if the merchandise is returned.The purpose for this fine is to pay their loss prevention department. In this case, you are the loss prevention department- you had to take time out of your day to deal with his bad decision.
I'd explain that, and then explain that he has to pay his "fine" by working it off somehow. In this case, his fine is the gas money and time that it took you to drive all the way back to the store and return his stolen goods. If it took you guys 30 minutes to do that (let's give you the living wage of $10.00 per hour), and the drive took you 1/8 of a gallon of gas, then that would be a fine of about $5.50.
What can he do around the house to make $5.50 to pay you back for your time and gas?
I also think that what you did was enough. It sounds like you pointed out that it was wrong; and he brought it back and admitted taking it. You helped him make things right. That seems pretty great, to me. I don't think anything more is really needed. Unless at some point you talk to him about the treats and how tempting they seem to be for him. Perhaps a bit about your concerns ie) health wise, or the way they affect him or whatever it is. Have a little dialogue and see where it goes - try and keep the communication lines open. I wouldn't make it a big deal - but just empathize with him about how much he wants sweets etc.and how you really care for him.