Re: Oh no! DD got caught STEALING!!!!
Something very valuable that I have learned from smart parents around me is to sit down with them and talk to them about telling the truth. Make a point about how important it is that they come to you when they need you, when they are in trouble, etc. Make sure that they know that you will always be there to help them. That you may not like some of the choices that they make or what they do but that you will always love them.
Then it is important to stress that telling the truth always makes things easier. Tell them there will always be a consequence for bad behavior but you will always take into account that they told you the truth. Then specify that if they are dishonest the consequence will always be worse.
The first time they come to you with a difficult truth or you approach them and they confess - acknowledge the difficulty of coming forward. "I appreciate you telling me the truth, I can tell from the look on your face that it was a hard thing to do. It can take a lot of courage to do the right thing. What you did was not okay. I'm going to have to take some time to think about what kind of consequence is in order. I'll let you know when I come up with one and we'll sit down to discuss it." Or involve them. Ask them what kind of consequence they think is in order. Often times they will think of something far harsher than you would have. If it is too lax tell them you appreciate their input but you think ______ is more appropriate. Involving them in the process doesn't give the power to them, it helps them to see the logical order of things and you always have the final say if their judgement is off - which at times it will undoubtebly be.
It is important for our kids to know they can tell us the truth with things like this or even small things like who tracked the dirt in through the kitchen because someday it will be bigger things like peer pressure, drugs, depression and heaven forbid - pregnancy. We set up how they feel about coming to us when they are small. If they always feel that either way they're going to get screamed at and telling the truth brings no difference, they will always feel uncomfortable coming to us with difficult things - they will choose to confess things to their friends instead.
It sounds like your daughter, on some levels, was uncomfortable with stealing. She was making a point to point out the stickers to you. It seems a trivial thing but it's not. I myself did a lot of stealing at her age and did lots of things like that to get my parents attention to what I was doing without directly coming out and saying it. I didn't understand the gravity of what I was doing. I knew I wasn't supposed to do, I knew the Bible said it was bad, but I didn't know why. I didn't understand that taking a bunch of candy from a store ultimately hurt many people. I wound up stopping the behavior on my own without my parents ever knowing because one of my friends got caught and couldn't shop at that store anymore (a real life consequence) - and no, I am not a criminal in real life and I've never gone to jail etc. Stealing is a common thing in childhood. It is not okay and I don't condone it and it is NOT something to take lightly but the way our society sets things up ownership is very confusing, especially to children.
You are doing a great job with some very touchy subjects. Way to go on you and her dad working together to sort these things out. That will go a long way.
Mom to DD: Camden 12/04, DS: Garrett 8/08, DSD: Mikayla 2/00 and Angel Baby's lost on 11/15/07 and 6/14/10. Expecting a new addition to our family in May 2012.
My Blog:Our Learning House