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The Lowdown on Lying, Stealing, and Cheating (page 2)

The Lowdown on Lying, Stealing, and Cheating

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Updated on Feb 7, 2008

Stealing. The most common reason children steal is because they want to have what everyone else has. Although you should recognize that your child wants to fit in, this is a good time to talk about what your family can afford or how your rules differ from other families’ rules. If you don’t think your child should have something until a certain age or for a certain reason, explain your reasoning to her. You can also work together to find a way that she can earn what she wants – by getting an allowance, doing chores, or being more responsible.

Cheating. Children want to win, achieve, and be the best, and will often go to great lengths to do this, which can sometimes mean that they do it by cheating. Cheating does not only include copying from someone else’s work, but is also breaking or bending the rules, even when playing a game. As with lying about their academic performance, if your child cheats on her homework or classroom work, explain to her that the effort is more important than the grade. She is only cheating herself, because she is the one who is not learning what she needs to know. Parents often have the urge to let their young child win at a board game, but this is not teaching your child to follow the rules.

Set a good example. Children learn from their parents, and your child is very aware of what you do. Even things like rolling through a stop sign, calling in sick when you are not really sick, or failing to point it out when the cashier forgets to charge you for one of your purchases at the grocery store will teach your child that it is ok to bend the rules and not tell the truth.

Recognize when to be concerned. Sometimes, excessive lying, stealing, or cheating can mean that your child has a behavior problem that you should be concerned about. If your child consistently lies or steals and does not feel bad about it, destroys other people’s property, shoplifts, skips school often, does not have many friends, or is deliberately mean to animals, you should talk to his pediatrician and the school counselor. It is possible that he has conduct disorder or another behavioral problem that needs to be addressed. Or, these could be signs that he has a learning or developmental disability, or is being bullied. These problems are not your or his fault, and with the help of the right professional he can overcome them.

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