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neibertcarrie
neibertcarrie asks:
Q:

my 9 year old grandson is stealing everything in site and lying about it when caught what should we do?

He lies about everything and steals from everybody and it doesn't matter what it is from name tags to cell phones. he is adhd and has been in counseling for abuse at the hands of his mother for over a year but it has not stopped. we have grounded him, time outs ,he has been expelled from school. We are at our wits end please help.
In Topics: Autism & Aspergers Syndrome, Discipline and behavior challenges
> 60 days ago

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Expert

Boys Town National Hotline
Jan 24, 2012
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What the Expert Says:

Sometimes when we are stumped by a particular behavior, it is helpful to try to figure out why the child is doing it. He may be stealing/lying because he wants things and can't have them, or because he has feelings that he is unable to process, like the feelings that come with the past abuse from his mother. A kid might steal, in this case, to make up for something that is missing or that he missed out on. But stealing and lying won't solve these problems.

It sounds like stealing and lying has become a habit for him. It doesn't mean that he can't change his ways though. Kids sometimes make mistakes and there are ways to get them back on track. Getting the people in his life involved in teaching the right from wrong behavior and teaching self control will help him learn the skills and feel better about themselves.

Here are some simple steps that will help your grandson get "back on track" with appropriate behavior.

1. Explain/discuss why telling the truth/not stealing is important.
Teaching children that you truly benefit from being truthful with words and actions. It means that you can be trusted by people around you. When you are open and honest, you have better relationships with people (parents, grandparents, friends and family)
2. Model truthfulness.
It is a learned behavior. Set a good example by being truthful to your grandchild and be as truthful as possible.
3. Discipline for stealing and lying.
Set specific rules for lying and specific rules for stealing. These rules should be discussed with him before they are enforced. At the same time, there should be a payoff for being honest and not giving into stealing. Praise is necessary when teaching these skills. Be careful not to let punishments be too severe where it would cause him to lie or steal as a means to protect himself. Taking his phone or video games would certainly be appropriate.
4. Be consistent.
Stick with it. Don't steer away from your list of rules and consequences. This shows that you are being honest and teaching him the valuable lesson of following through.
5. Don't shame him for lying or stealing.
You want to let him know that he does need help and that is what you, as his guardian, are trying to do. He is not a bad kid but rather you are disappointed in his behavior.
6. Set him up.
Set your grandson up to succeed. Catch him being good. Ask him questions that you know the answers to and see if he tells the truth. You could ask him what he did while you were at the grocery store. Knowing that he watched a movie or played his video game, praise him for telling the truth. Positive reinforcement.
7. Seek professional help if the behavior persists.
Seeing a counselor may help him learn how to cope effectively with his emotions that may be causing him to steal. Using medication and/or proper diet to help with his ADHD can help and when he feels better and more in control it will show in his behavior.

We hope this helps. We are here 24/7 if you would like to talk with one of our counselors. Please call the Boys Town National Hotline if you have any further questions.

Sincerely,
Naina, counselor
Boys Town National Hotline
1-800-448-3000


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