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Mom threatens to cancel Christmas for 1 of her children, Facebook explodes
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An Australian mother who is considering cancelling Christmas for one of her children sparked a passionate debate when she turned to Facebook for advice. - photo by Jessica Ivins
An Australian mother who is considering canceling Christmas for one of her children sparked a passionate debate when she turned to Facebook for advice.

The mother, who chose to remain anonymous, is trying to come up with an adequate punishment for her 10-year-old daughter who she claims has been stealing money from her parents to buy candy. She posted her dilemma on Australias School Mum Facebook page over the weekend.

The first time she had some privileges taken away and had to repay the money from her pocket money, the mother wrote. We are disappointed and angry that she has done it again.

The mother pointed out that coming up with a punishment to fit the crime has been tough. Her daughter doesnt have any devices, play computer games or watch much TV so taking away those types of incentives isnt really an option, she says.

The girls parents are afraid that if they ban her from her sports lessons, it will only punish the team.

So theyve come up with a rather unconventional and extreme solution: no Christmas gifts this year.

My husband feels we should give her no presents at all at Christmas, she wrote. While I know this will send a big message to her and her siblings about how serious and unacceptable stealing is, I wonder whether it is too harsh?

Within two days, more than 500 people have added their voice to the debate. Some said that taking away Christmas while a bit over the top would definitely teach the appropriate lesson.

I would be sure the other kids got presents but yes, Santa leaves her a lump of coal, wrote one commenter. I guarantee it will make a lasting impression.

Others suggested sizing down her gifts this year, especially compared to her siblings, so that shed recognize the fallout and learn from her mistake.

I wouldnt take Christmas away altogether, but cut it back for her, another commenter wrote. Count the gifts each child receives and ensure she gets less. Make it obvious she has less. Wrap a potato or piece of coal for each extra gift her siblings have. Explain she would have had a present for each spud if she hadnt stolen.

Others, however, were appalled at the suggestion calling the action far too damaging and warning of a negative impact on the child in the long run.

Never ever take away Christmas or birthdays. ... She will hate you for it, wrote one commenter. Give her lots of opportunities to do the right thing and praise her for it. What you do now is so important if you want to have a good relationship in the future.

Canceling Christmas is a bit harsh, it sends the message that Christmas is just about the presents, wrote another. I would make her work to earn the money back that she took. ... Make her understand that you and your husband work for the money you earn.

Parenting experts seem to agree with the latter school of thought.

Clearly, punishment is not an effective deterrent, child psychologist Dr. Laura Markham told Yahoo Parenting. It doesnt address the root problem, because this child already knows stealing is a mistake, since she faced consequences before.

In fact, by taking away Christmas, the parents could inadvertently be encouraging their daughter to act out in bigger ways, according to Markham.

I guarantee that the damage you do taking away the holiday will only make things worse, because instead of helping her with whatever problem she is having, she hears the parents telling her, Im going to punish you with the worst thing I can think of.

Markham also warns that since the debate has been so out in the open, the girl could suffer from public shaming.

Kids who are publicly shamed start to think of themselves as bad, give up trying to be good and act bad intentionally, she told Yahoo.

So what should they do instead?

Markham said the best thing is to talk to their daughter about her motivation for taking the money, and through that process, determine if there is a deeper issue that needs to be addressed.