My daughter is pretty easy going and seems to never be interested in giving her things away or trading her things. My son, on the other hand, keeps us pretty active in these areas. I want to clarify that he hasn't done anything yet that has caused major problems. But, I do view these early days as an opportunity to teach him acceptable "behavior" so that he can avoid any major issues later in life.
Stealing: Yep - I am starting with the big one! My kids have not stolen anything (at least they haven't yet). But, they have been victims of theft at school. I think there is a lesson to teach with this as they now know what it feels like to be the person who has had something stolen from them. I do have a theft situation from MY past. I was about my sons age (5-6). I went to a small grocery store in the town we lived in. I remember that my mom, my aunt, and my little cousin were with me. My cousin was crying because she wanted a balloon and she couldn't have one. While we were standing near the small toy/party supply section of the store I noticed a balloon on the floor. It was just a little latex balloon that must have fallen out of a package of balloons. My mom and aunt were shopping in another area of the store so I put the balloon in my pocket so I could ask my mom if my cousin could have it. I completely forgot about it until later that day. I was at home, getting ready to use the restroom and the balloon fell out of my pocket. I immediately knew that it was wrong that I had the balloon since I didn't ask my mom if it was okay. I remember sitting in the bathroom trying to figure out a way to hide the balloon. Should I hide it in the trash? No. I was sure that my mom would see it when she emptied the trash and would know that I stole it. Isn't it funny how a child's brain works? So, I eventually came out of the bathroom and told my mom all about the balloon. She then made me tell my step-dad about the incident. They decided that I should be taken to the store to return the balloon. All the way there my mom told me about a time that my aunt stole something from a store when she was little and she almost had to go to jail! True or not (I honestly don't know), that entire car ride I was sure I was going to jail! My mom took me to an employee where I had to tell them what I had done and then she asked for a manager. The manager told my mom that I could just keep the balloon but my mom insisted that I was NOT keeping the balloon and that I needed to be talked to. Of course, I knew nothing about this conversation until later in life. I sat there on a bench telling the manager all about the balloon and fearing that he would call the police. Of course, I was able to go home. Was this to extreme? No! I think that this was the best decision my parents made in raising me. It impacted many of my decisions for the rest of my life!
Acceptable Gift Exchanges: My son recently came home with a dollar. No big deal but I knew it wasn't HIS dollar. So, I asked him where it came from. He explained that at recess a boy took a playground ball away from my son and his friends. During the dispute over the ball, the boy hit my son. Which, of course, hurt so he cried. The recess staff were made aware of the situation and handled it. But, one of the other boys, who felt sorry for my son, gave him a dollar to make him happy. Seems harmless - right? I could have just let it be but I took this as an opportunity to make my son aware that he should not accept a gift like this. Who knows, maybe the boy who gave him the dollar will be in trouble with his parents. Maybe that boy will claim that my son stole the dollar. This scenario could play out in so many ways. So, the next morning I drove my son to school so we could stop into the office. I explained to him that he was not in trouble but that the dollar needed to go back to the boy who gave it to him. Thankfully the office staff was on the same page and made this a positive experience for my son. My son did not know what the boys name was but he knew what grade the boy was in and said that he could find him at recess. So, we left the dollar in the office with the plan that my son would find the boy that day and bring him to the office to get his dollar back. I hope that this experience has helped my son make better decisions on gift giving/receiving in the future.
Trading: Trading cards are a big thing at my kiddos school right now. My son loves collecting so you can imagine that we have had a few conversations about trading "rules". Of course, what we need to talk about is never known until unacceptable trading happens. For example, my son has protective covers for his Pokemon cards. Not just the cheap clear ones but the Pokemon designed covers. The first day that he took some of them to school he traded the cards, with the covers, for another card, without a cover. I explained that we spent extra money on the covers so he should not trade them with the cards. So, the next day he came home with a penny. He explained that someone gave him money for a Pokemon cover. Yep - my 1st grade son thinks that one penny is a lot of money. So, after many discussions about the value of a penny, he now knows that he can not trade his cards/covers for money. So, then he started trading the covers for additional trading cards. Example, he gives one card cover without a card and he receives one card in exchange. Okay, picking my battles, we are letting him do that. I figure it's time for someone else's parent to discuss trading with their child if they don't think they should trade cards for covers.
Another situation that occurred that I thought I would share. A couple of years ago we visited my brother and his family at a military base in Boston. As a souvenir, I purchased an engraved dog tag for my son to attach to his backpack. The dog tag cost about $10 but it was nice and perfect to personalize his backpack (in case it was left at school or on the bus). One day my son came home from school and the tag was gone. I probably wouldn't have noticed but the chain that held the dog tag was left laying in his backpack. So I asked my son where the tag was. His reply: "I gave it to my friend so he could know where I live." Seriously?!?! I could have written down the address for him! But, my son gave it away not knowing the "value" of the $10 spent on it. Another lesson learned - LOL!
As you can imagine, my little man keeps our life interesting. But I wouldn't trade him for the world!