Thursday, November 8, 2007

Was I too hard? (as in does the punishment fit the crime?)

I have been having some struggles with Ben lately. Actually it seems like I have been having struggles with Ben since he was about 18 months old. Not always the same struggle, we will get one issue (usually character issues) straightened out, and something else will rear it's ugly head.
So the latest one has been about being "trustworthy". I have explained to him that being trustworthy means doing what you say you will do and making good choices even when I am not around.
So today was the Book Fair at school. Ben has been dilligently saving his money for Disneyland so I gave him $6 this morning to buy a book at the book fair. Now remember this is huge for me, because I do not usually buy anything more than the necessities for my kids, but he loves to read so I broke my own rule. When I gave him the money we discussed that he was to use it to buy a "chapter book". Since it was my money, I felt that I could put that stipulation on it. He agreed, put the money in his wallet and went off to school (which is a little scary in itself ; a seven year old with six bucks in his pocket). This afternoon when I picked him up he promptly showed me the book that he bought. It was not a chapter book! As a matter of a fact the book had absolutely NO WORDS in it. He bought a Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone Poster Book. It is a book with pictures of the characters and scenes from the movie, and besides the front and back cover there is not a word in it. Just pictures. The kid reads at a sixth grade level and he brought home a book without a single word to read. Oh, and he bought 5 large erasers that look like surf boards and twenty dollar bills.
I was mad. I asked him why he did not stick to buying the agreed upon chapter book, and he said "there were no chapter books." Apparantly the kid thinks I just fell off the turnip truck. I was at the book fair this morning and saw a huge selection of chapter books. I put no other stipulations on the money except that he buy a chapter book. He could have bought a SpongeBob chapter book and I would have been fine with it.
So for his discipline I made him pay me back the $6 from his Disneyland savings and I decided that he would need to return the Harry Potter Poster Book (because he knows that we aren't reading or watching the Harry Potters at our house) and 3 of the erasers (he had already given one away and the other he had used).
Does the discipline fit? Would you have handled it differently?


Kris said...

Does the money from the return go back to the Disney fund?
Ben is a very smart kid and needs to be responsible especially about something that was discussed. I think that you are on the right track. I would also make it clear that you forgive him and his lack of good judgement. Next time the opportunity comes up to buy some thing, make him use his own money and if it is something on the approved list then re-emburse him. If it is not on the approved list then back it goes. If he still wants to buy something, he can use his money(no re-embursement). Just my opinion.

Gina said...

Well, we all fell out of the same womb. I would have done exactly the same thing. I would also probably tell my child that I still trust him (her) but that if something like that happened again I would find it very hard to trust him anymore to do what was agreed upon. Also that trust is easy to lose and a lot harder to get back. That sounds exactly like mom, doesn't it?

Lee Ann said...

I don't think I came out of the same womb as you sisters, but I agree totally. I don't think it was too harsh at all. In fact, if he wasn't able to return it, I would have dropped it off at Goodwill with him in the car. And yes of course all the "I forgive you....I still love you" stuff as well.

Heather said...

Good job, Trish! I think that was the perfect punishment and I suspect Ben will learn a lot from it.

Shannon said...

I say the punishment fit the crime! And I agree with LeeAnn. My Em actually spent her own money without asking on a book about a show that I don't let her watch. We threw the book away. I didn't make her pay me anything, because she actually came to me and told me what she had done. So I felt that was worth a little lieniency