hcf4533 asks:

I have a 7 year old boy and most of the time he is loving and affectionate,but at camp for the 3rd time he has stolen things from other kids backpacks

In Topics: Discipline and behavior challenges
> 60 days ago



Jul 29, 2010
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What the Expert Says:

I'm sure it is very concerning to you that your son is stealing--especially since it has happened several times. You should definitely consider this a 'red flag' that he is feeling troubled about something and certainly NOT ignore it!

It is important for you to try and understand why he might be stealing. Here are a few questions to ask yourself (and him):

--Has he stolen before camp?
--Is he the only one stealing, or is he doing so with other kids?
--Is he angry with the kids from whom he is stealing? Being bullied by them? Another similar reason?
--Could he be stealing to seek attention?
--Is there any major change going on at home (new baby, divorce, money problems, medical problems)?
--Has any form of stealing been role-modeled for him by anyone he knows?
--Does he struggle with low self esteem or any other current emotional issues?

Once you have given some considered thought to these questions and their answers, perhaps it will help you understand why he is stealing. Depending upon what you discover, you might want to consider seeking professional advice if the stealing doesn't stop. When young children steal, it's important to address the underlying emotional reasons as quickly as possible so that they feel better and don't need to steal anymore, so it doesn't become a habit that continues into their older years.

Good Wishes and Great Parenting,
Dr Susan Bartell
JustAsk Expert
Twitter @drsusanbartell
NEW book “The Top 50 Questions Kids Ask”

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Additional Answers (1)

A990 writes:
dear hcf4533,
 there are many REASONS as in to why  a kids 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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