ADHD Parenting "Your Shortest Path to a Respectful Child and a Peaceful Home…Period."
  • What to Do When You Think Your Child is Stealing

    continued from What to Do When Your Child is Stealing

    1-Stay Calm

    Don’t overreact. When a child steals it does not mean that he is a thief or is headed for a life of crime. It is really no different than any of mistake that your child makes.

    2-Do not Take it Personally

    Children steal to get attention. If your child is stealing from you and you take it as a personal attack you are reinforcing the reason the child stole.

    3-Do Not Accuse or Confront Your Child

    This point must be stressed. You must catch your child in the act so that the situation speaks for itself.

    You can never challenge your child with circumstantial evidence. Either the child will lie and you will reinforce his dishonesty or he will confess. If he tells the truth and you punish him, you will be teaching him that it pays to lie. Either way you are stuck. Circumstantial evidence won’t do.

    Hearing that your child stole from a third party won’t do. If your child denies it, then you are forced to believe your child. If you don’t, then you will show your child that you don’t trust him.

    Nothing encourages a child to be dishonest more that knowing that his parents don’t trust him. If the child confesses, you will not be able to punish him.

    Even if you are 99% sure your child is stealing that is not good enough to accuse him.

    For example, say that you look in your purse and the brand new $50 you took out from the bank yesterday is missing. You put your child’s laundry away and you find hidden among his things your brand new $50. You did not catch your child.

    Maybe someone else also lost a new $50 bill and he found it. Maybe your $50 fell out of your purse and your child found it on the street. Unless you see your child reach into your purse and take out the $50 you did not see him steal.

    4-Make Sure that Your Child Knows What He Did is Wrong

    This is particularly true of a younger child.

    What to Do When You Catch Your Child

    Don’t ask the child for explanations. Merely state that he is not allowed to take things from other people. Do not sermonize. Just use simple explanations.

    “Stealing is wrong. You would not want anyone to take your toy. So it’s wrong for you to take this toy.”

    Never imply that your child is bad. Stealing is bad, not the child. Do not call your child a thief, dishonest, or a liar or any other name that you do not want him to become. When you give your child a label, he will grow to fill that label.


    Correcting the Wrong

    If Your Child Stole From Someone Outside the Family

    Your child must make restitution. If your child stole from a store or from a neighbor, then see that he returns the object. Have your child apologize and say he or she will never do it again. You should accompany your child to make it easier for him to correct the damage.

    If Your Child Stole Money from You


    Estimate what child took and make it clear that the child must pay you back. He may do this by helping around the house for money. You should pay him enough that he pays off his debt in about a month. Say to him that you realize he needs more money and give him an allowance or increase in allowance.

    Hide Temptation

    Don’t leave money around where the child can find it. Tell his siblings that you are going to watch their money for a while. Don’t tell them why. Don’t send this child to the store to buy something with a large bill where there will be a lot of change.

    Putting the Incident into the Past

    Figure Out Why Your Child Stole

    If he needs more attention make a special effort to give it too him. If he needs to feel more control over his life, give him an increase in allowance and more freedom to spend it as he wishes. If he needs certain things to be part of his peer group, make sure that he gets them.

    Continue to Trust Your Child

    If your child is stealing it does not mean he is bad or he is a thief. You don’t want your reaction to make him become that way. Your child will fulfill your expectations of him. If you view him as a thief, bad, or dishonest he will grow into that label.

    Be a Model of Honesty

    Children learn by watching their parents. You should show concern about the property rights of others. A parent who brings office supplies home or boasts about a mistake at the supermarket checkout counter, teaches his child that honesty is not important.

    Conclusion

    Stealing is a common problem. You should view it like any other mistake your child makes. It is something that has to be corrected, but it is not more than that. If you handle it properly, you can correct this problem quickly and easily.

    Please share this article.

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    Warmly,

      Anthony Kane, MD
        P S Please leave a comment because I would really like to get your reaction to this.

          If you would like to have a quick step-by-step plan on how to end your child's difficult behavior forever and your child is between the ages of 2 and 11:

            Please go to:

          How to Improve Your Child's Behavior

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