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raven7829069
raven7829069 asks:
Q:

My 10 year old daughter lies and steals money from her step dad, What can I do to make this stop?

I have a 10 year old daughter who lies and steals money from her step dad. This is the first time she has done this.We don't know how long or how much money she has actually taken but we think it's around a hundred if not more. She also lied to us about a bike she got for her little sister who is only 16 months old. First she said she got it in a auction, then she got it from a nabor, then she finally admitted that she stole it out of a garage near my house. So my question is how do I stop this and what do I need to do to correct this behavior. I've already grounded her for the rest of the summer til school starts but that just seems to make things worse and her biological father doesn't and hasn't disciplined her or her brother, but he is actually fine he doesn't act like this. My oldest child, my son is 12, and he has never acted this way. So why does one child act out but not the other. They both live with there biological father I just get them every other weekend. But I have them the whole summer this time. Could the divorce have anything to do with this, Did I do something to bring this on, I feel like the worst mother in the world right now, I feel like I failed her, please someone help me figure out to make this stop before it gets worse.Plus my husband wanted to send her straight back to her dad's house, I told him that is wrong, she is my daughter and I wont cast her out like that. But is he right is he wrong. Wont that just make things worse.
In Topics: Discipline and behavior challenges
> 60 days ago

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Expert

lkauffman
Jul 23, 2010
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What the Expert Says:

Thank you for sharing your story with the community. My heart goes out to you as you and your husband as you wrestle with the current situation. I know it must be terribly painful to see your daughter struggling with her choices.

I think that the feedback you have received thus far from the community has been spot-on. As Dadof2Teens suggested, I recommend that you use natural consequences to help your daughter understand the impact of her behavior. When she returns the bike to the neighbor, I think that she and the neighbor should also work out some form of compensation, as well. Maybe, she can mow their lawn once a week for the rest of the summer? And, have her work with her stepfather to devise a reasonable strategy for paying back the money that she stole. These approaches will cover the punishment and consequences piece of the situation, but there is certainly more work to be done.

As Xannie and Dadof2Teens suggested, this situation is certainly not your "fault." You and her father can't help the fact that your marriage didn't work out and the relationship ended in divorce. The two of you were doing the best that you could. That said, your daughter understandably will have reactions and strong feelings associated with the way things have unfolded in the family. Children tend to want their parents to be together, even if their parents being together isn't the best thing for their parents or their family. They often question whether they had something to do with the divorce and whether they are somehow the cause.

They are especially sensitive about relationships with each individual parent, and they can get pretty "territorial" when a new partner gets involved with a parent. Even though your husband has likely made a great effort and may even have foraged a nice relationship with your children, I think there is still a part of your daughter that is angry with him for coming into the family (she thinks: "now, there is even less of a chance that mom and dad will get back together!). I don't think it is a coincidence that the person she stole money from was her stepfather.

I don't think that it would be appropriate to send her back to her father's before the summer is over. She is clearly working through some strong feelings, and I think a part of her is "testing" her relationship with you. She is likely feeling insecure about her relationship with you and sending her back would unintentionally confirm to her that you don't care about her anymore (in her mind, of course). Make special time for just the two of you and let her know whenever possible that you love and adore her. It will likely be tough for a while, but with continued efforts to provide firm boundaries with a loving touch, your daughter will get back on the right track.

Laura Kauffman, Ph.D.
Licensed Psychologist
JustAsk Expert
www.drlaurakauffman.com

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Additional Answers (3)

Dadof2Teens
Dadof2Teens writes:
I truly feel for you and I hope others will respond to your request as well.  From my view, I would have her return the bike to the neighbor's house, actually ringing the doorbell and returning it to the owner so she can see the impact of her action.  I would also have her come up with a fair plan to compensate her stepfather for the money she stole from him.  

But I think there is more going on.  I would sit down with her, take her out to lunch.  Talk with her about how's she feels.  What might be going on that's making her act out.  There is an underlying issue, if she's not willing to speak with you find a professional to speak with.

Hang in there.
> 60 days ago

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Xannie
Xannie writes:
Hello!

My parents divorced when I was about three years old, and it never bugged me.
They are still friends, though, and I don't know how well you and your kid's father get along. (sorry if that sounded rude =/)

it may just be a stage, just like a lot of kids go through when they are about 9-10 years old.

I'm sure its not your fault, because it doesn't sound like you spoil the kids or anything.

Maybe try and talk over with the kid's father about discipline and talking-to's?

Anyway, hang in there and good luck!

-Xannie
> 60 days ago

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A990
A990 writes:
Dear raven7829069,
 first i would like to say that it is NOT your fault and second that you're doing the best you could for her.
 there are many REASONS as in to why  a preteen/ teen steals and (in general) they are: 1) cause they CAN'T CONTROL themselves. 2) THRILL of doing so. 3) PEER PRESSURE. 4) child's basic NEEDS are not met. 5) needs more ATTENTION. steal to gain a sense of CONTROL or to REBEL.
what should you do when you SUSPECT your child is lying: 1) stay CALM/ don't overreact for it is considered as mistake and not as the child is going to be a thief. 2) do NOT take it personally they steal to get attention. 3) do NOT accuse or confront your child before you have hard evidence. 4) DON'T judge from hearing it from a third party cause the child will deny it and the child will know that the parents don't trust the child. 5) make sure that your child KNOWS what she did is wrong.
now when you CATCH your child stealing, 1 ) don't ask for expctations. merely STATE what she did is wrong and that she is NOT allowed to take things from other people. do not moralize. just use simple EXPLANATIONS. for example "stealing is wrong. you would not want anyone to take your toy. so it's wrong for you take his toy." 2) NEVER imply your child is bad, stealing is bad. DON'T call your child a thief, a liar, dishonest...when you give your child a label, she will grow to fullfil this label.
CORRECTING THE WRONG:if she stole from somone outside the family, then see that she RETURNS the object, APOLOGIZE and say that she'll NEVER do it again. you should ACCOMPANY her to make it easier to correct the damage.if she stole money from you, estimate what she took and make it clear that she must PAY YOU BACK by forexample helping around the house. you should pay her enoughthat she pays of the debt in about a month. say to her that you realize that she needs more money and give her an allowance or an increase on her allance.
Lastly figure out WHY she stole and make sure she gets what she needs.
as for the LYING, the Reasons (in general) are either to avoid punishment, impress others, boost their self-esteem, get something they want, protect others, and because they hear their parents lie.
HOW TO TELL when lying, facial expressions, clearness of statement, spontaneity of answers(unrehearsed).
WHAT CAN YOU DO: explain/ discuss why telling the truth is important. Model truthfulness. discipline for lying, be cinsitent in treatment for lying ( come up with rules about lying and stick to them (ex: deduct allance)). make sure lying is not rewarded for children. don't shame her for lying just let her know that you're dissapointed and avoid sending the message that they are bad people. don't set her up. figure out why and look for solution, praise truthfullness. seek professional help for persistent lying.
> 60 days ago

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