I don't know what to do... — The Bump
School-Aged Children

I don't know what to do...

I don't know what to do with my 5 yr old boy.  He has been lying to me lately and actually stole some candy from the grocery store check out line yesterday!  I didn't find out he took it till bedtime last night so we could take it back then, but this morining we are going to go back he he is going to return it and apologize.  He did not eat it, he just really wanted it and I had said no.  He has wanted this particular candy for a while and I have always said no.  We don't eat a lot of candy in our house and I like to save them for special treats. 

So as punishment for stealing, we said no ipad or computer games for a week (and of course returning the candy).  This morning I came downstairs to find him playing on the ipad!  I even reminded him that he was not allowed to play.  He went downstairs a few minutes before me this morning so had some time to himself. He knew what he was doing was wrong and did it anyway thinking he could get away with it. 

As he has gotten older I have given him more freedoms like coming downstairs by him self when he wakes up before me. I want him to move towards independance, but how do I get him to stop lying, sneaking around and doing what he is not supposed to do?  What kind of punishment is appropriate for this?  Right now I have told him to go to his room and stay there while I think about it.  Should I ground him to his room for a day or two?  Should I make him do chores? Any other suggestions.


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Re: I don't know what to do...

  • My SD is 10 and we have to actually remove and put in our bedroom what she is grounded from.  They don't understand consequences at that age and kids will do what they "think" they can get away with.  My suggestion would be to remove his objects and put them away.  Tell him that whenever he has understood what he has done is wrong, that he may get his items back. 

    In our house.  If a rule is broken, we make her work it off!  Chores, Chores and more Chores as punishment.  Kid's only benefit from grounding if the punishment is severe enough. Like, does he still have other toys to play with?  Our SD doesn't seem to benefit unless we make her miserable.  It doesn't have to be an all day punishment, but yet 2 hours grounded to the couch only.  That kills a child!   Or, she can't play outside until she has worked off her crime!

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  • Lying and sneaking (maybe even stealing) to get what you want is not that rare for 5 year old kids.

    They do it at this age, because they are just starting to understand the difference between fantasy and reality.  So they know that just wishing hard for that candy in the store probably won't work. They also understand time, and they know that "we'll get some next time we're here" could mean a LONG time from now.  But knowing that they're really, truly not going to get that candy is SUCH a disappointment.  They don't yet have the emotional ability to cope with it.  

    Just taking the candy, or just telling Mom you already brushed your teeth, or just playing with the I-pad anyway is a way to deal with that problem. Kids also tell lies that they wish would happen at this age for the same reason.  For instance, "I really, really wish I had won the race, so I'll just tell everyone I did." 

    When my kids went through this stage, I just tried to be as firm and consistent as possible.  Yes, I did take away privileges and have consequences for breaking my trust.  When they did tell the truth, I really praised them for being trustworthy and responsible. 

    Most kids lie at least sometimes.  But it seems like age 5 is particularly prone to this behavior. 

    High School English teacher and mom of 2 kids:

    DD, born 9/06/00 -- 12th grade
    DS, born 8/25/04 -- 7th grade
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  • My son stole from a store once, when he was the same age. Luckily we caught him pocketing the candy at the register, so I made a big deal about it, and had him hand the candy over to the lady working the cash register, and apologize. She saw what I was going for and mentioned that if he stole again the police would have to be called. This, quite obviously, scared him. He thought he would go to jail.

    Grounding for an extended period of time doesn't work with him, since he is ADHD, and plus, at 5 kids don't really understand time. So, he was grounded from everything for the rest of the day. No playing outside, no TV time, no computer time. Everytime he asked for something that would be considered a privilege, he was denied, and we made a point of explaining exactly why he was not allowed. He had a very, VERY boring Saturday.

    The next day, after a little reminder chat in the morning, we started fresh. Since then, we have learned to keep a VERY close eye on him when in line at the store.

    Lying and sneaking around at home, we still have a bit of a problem with, although nowhere near as bad as it used to be. Two of our rules are no entering someones room/touching someones stuff without their permission, and no helping yourself to food - you must ask first. These are his two main problem areas. Normally if he goes against those rules it's a loss of privilege, extra chores, or he has to fork over something of his for a certain time period.

    Consistency is key. It may take a while but it WILL pay off eventually.


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