My two older kids walk to the mailboxes every day to get the mail. We live in an apartment so all the boxes are together. The other day after they went to collect our mail they breathlessly burst through the front door, "Mom we found a ton of money on the ground at the mailbox!"
They handed me a wad of bills that equaled $80. They were already making plans how to spend it when I totally burst their bubble, "I know you guys really want to keep this but this is a lot of money. The right thing to do is to turn it into the apartment office in case someone comes in looking for it," I had said.
I told them to rush it back to the office and we'd talk about it when they got back. So about 10 minutes later they breathlessly burst through the door again thoroughly excited. They explained that as they walked back to the office our neighbor was leaving, in tears. M said, "I just knew she was looking for her money and I asked if she lost something."
Now the way M explained this next part confirmed for me that I had done the right thing in asking them to turn the money in rather than keeping it...
M was so excited when she said, "(our neighbor)'s face was shocked and with a huge smile she asked if we found her money. I told her yes and we were on our way to take it to the office." She continued, "She give us a huge hug and said she was so sad and we made her day and that was her grocery money!"
I had asked them how they felt when they found the money and how they felt almost as excited when they found the owner of the money. And I reminded them that most of the time, the right thing to do is the more difficult choice.
In the end, they did not get to be $80 richer but I have a feeling that joy of doing the right thing is a much more valuable reward.