This blog is my place to vent and share resources with other parents of children of trauma. I try to be open and honest about my feelings in order to help others know they are not alone. Therapeutic parenting of adopted teenagers with RAD and other severe mental illnesses and issues (plus "neurotypical" teens) , is not easy, and there are time when I say what I feel... at the moment. We're all human!

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Consequences for Stealing - Community Service

FAIR Club Stealing Consequences - Community Service 

There are many reasons our kids lie and steal (see this post). I prefer not to have "standard" consequences for the kids behaviors out of concern that they might decide that the crime is worth doing the time, so I try to come up with logical consequences for each incident. That being said, in addition to other consequences, we do have one standard consequence for stealing or breaking someone else's things - they have to pay back double the value of the item.

Example 1: Bear took $11 out of Ponito's wallet (which he then hid, but Ponito did get it back). 
1. He will be required to do his brother's chores for 2 weeks (pays $10 if done well).
2. He will be required to give Ponito the remaining $12 from Bear’s saved allowance.
3. He will go back to carrying a see-thru backpack or no back pack at all.
4. He will not be allowed to carry a wallet.
5. He will continue to spend the night at Grandma's on Saturday night (something he's told me he doesn't like doing), but they will be more closely supervising him.
6. He will not be allowed to go to his own Sunday school. Instead he will have to go to church and adult Sunday school with Poppy.
7. His room will be searched regularly again (although I probably will not tell him this)
8. He will lose the "benefit of the doubt" if things are stolen or missing (I will not be telling Kitty this as I worry she will take advantage)
9. He is already not allowed to go places with his friends unless Hubby or I can be present, but he will be reminded that this definitely does not increase our trust
10. He will be in the FAIR Club until all money is paid back to Ponito.
11. If anything more comes to light at the school, or if there are future issues then he will no longer be allowed to ride home from the public high school on the regular bus, and could potentially lose his ability to attend the public high school (currently spends half his time at his special school)
12. This will definitely delay his being able to eat lunch at the public high school indefinitely, because there is a lot less supervision. He'll have to continue to eat lunch at his special school.

Community Service

When the amount owed is substantial, and allowance, selling personal items (if the child decides to sell something we only pay "garage sale prices."), savings, and extra chores around the house are not enough, one option is community service. This involves the child working for family and friends (who do not actually pay for the work).

This consequence isn’t really about the money. It is more about learning a lesson and restitution. We credited our son $3/hr for manual labor. Technically $3/hr is not a fair wage, but Bear has worked for less when he was doing lawn work (a price he negotiated himself). Mostly this is because he does not do jobs well, usually damages the tools, and rarely finishes or cleans up after himself (although he doesn't get credit until the job is done). The price per hour is based on the quality of work. If it were about money then he would get a job, get paid, and have to turn it over. The problem is that in our neighborhood some of our neighbors will pay $100 for just a few hours of work… whether it’s done well or not.  

Our son also requires adult supervision (usually line of sight) – which generally means that supervisor is being taken away from what they’d rather be doing and the service has to be coordinated to work with everyone’s schedule. When a parent is not available, we might use people who are aware of the child’s need for supervision and can provide it. He does not get a choice in who he helps, what he does, or when it gets done (that's not how it works in the real world and he's not really capable of organizing this anyway).

Example 2: Stolen alcohol. Bear drank most of a bottle of Hubby’s expensive liquor (and watered it down to hide the fact that he’d been drinking it), he owed double the cost of the bottle (plus other consequences for the lying). The liquor was $45 a bottle so he owes us $90. 

In the past Bear has incurred big debts and never paid it back. This is why I chose community service instead. He will be in the FAIR Club until his community service hours are done. Once the hours are assigned, he cannot use money obtained elsewhere to pay back the debt. He also cannot earn extra money (by doing extra chores or working for cash) until his debts are paid.

Positive motivation 

Double Dipping - I referred to Bear's consequences as community service to a neighbor that doesn't need to know all of his business (the parent of one of my friends), Bear perked up and (after I got off the phone) asked if it could count toward the community service he is supposed to do for ROTC. Bingo! I actually prefer he do this kind of service (in which I can oversee his supervision) over leaving him on campus after school to do who knows what with his friends. This also means he's "buying into" the project too.

Positive Reinforcement - Allow the child to actually earn something or do something he/she enjoys. Community service doesn't have to be hard labor. Bear has actually enjoyed some of the volunteer work we've signed him up for - which helps him get it done. 

Example 3: One summer to keep Bear busy, we signed the whole family up to volunteer at an equine therapy place. (This wasn't actually a community service consequence for Bear, but I think it would have been a good option.)  He got to walk next to the children with disabilities during their therapy (riding horses is a great therapy for many disabilities) to make sure they didn't fall off. It was active and he got to feel like a big shot (the kids thought he was cool and everyone praised him for being helpful). 

Example 4: Bear stole another MP3 player. Rather than just put him in the FAIR Club for the millionth time with the same old consequences, which have no impact on his stealing. We decided to try something new. He still had to pay for the stolen Zune (we didn't make it double since the item was worth over $100 and he'd never be able to pay that much ), but instead of the money going to the owner of the stolen item (we never located the owner so the Zune was donated through the school to needy kids) we decided to let him use the earned money to buy his own Zune.

  • If he owned a nice MP3 player, maybe he'd be less likely to steal someone else's.
  • It motivated him to finish his hours
  • It gave us something to take away if/when needed

 This actually had some success.  

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Nice post. You've not written a general family update for a while. How are the kids? Kitty will be 20 soon... how time flies.