This afternoon (January 19th, 2020), I went to a shopping mall near my place with my wife and daughter. After having lunch in a restaurant, my wife went to a coffee shop for some research for her work. And my daughter and I went for grocery shopping. There, I purchased several items and drove home with my daughter. When we got out of the car, my daughter was acting a bit strange. She said that she would not bring back her precious puppy doll from the car and leave it in the car, and she was not smiling. When we got off the car, I noticed that she was carrying some cookies we haven’t purchased at the store. First, I thought that the cookies had been in the car for a few days, and she accidentally found it. But, her next action made me surprised. She suddenly started crying and told me, ” Daddy, I took the cookies from the store”.
I was not sure what to say at that moment. Then, I asked my daughter why she took these cookies. She said that it was because she wanted to eat them. A lot of thoughts went through my mind. What should I do? What should I say? What will be the best way of handling this situation? At least, she was aware that it was not right to take stuff without paying because she was crying. It was the first time she had ever done it, and probably it would be a crucial moment to teach her that it should never happen again.
First, I told her, “It is an extremely bad thing to do, and you should go to prison and has to live there for a long time without seeing your parents”. She cried even more. She even peed her pants. Probably, she was scared. She kept saying that she was sorry over and over again. I told her that it would be necessary to go to the store and apologize to the staff for what she had done. And I kept emphasizing that what she did was extremely bad. She kept crying. After a while, she stopped sobbing and asked me, “is it worse than peeing my pants?”. I told her that it would be 100 times worse than peeing your pants. She nodded.
After a few hours, I went to the store with her and paid for the cookies she had taken. Then, my daughter apologized to a lady working there as per my instruction. “I am sorry. I took these cookies without paying for it. I know what I did is wrong. I will never do it again.” The lady accepted my daughter’s apology.
We, the parents, face a lot of moral issues of our children. For children, the concept of morality is still vague. They may sense that what they are doing is right or wrong, but behaving according to their vague idea of morality is a different story. My daughter might have thought that taking cookies without paying is not the right thing to do, but she somehow took them by giving in to her temptation. Then, she felt bad and cried, probably because she had a sense of morality, which said that it was not the right thing to do. I appreciate that she has confessed to me, and she has not lied about her action.
Many parents should have a similar experience to mine. Proper handling of this kind of case will be crucial for the moral development of children. I hope my daughter has learned a valuable lesson today. I hope her sense of morality has been improved and strengthened through this experience.