I have a 9 yr old stepdaughter who has lived with us for three years now. She is very disrespectful to adults, lies constantly, steals from her classmates and teachers too. Not wanting to rely on physical punishment (mostly because occurances are so often!) we try grounding her, taking away toys, tv priviliges, etc----no form of punishment seems to phase her at all. Her previous living situation was far from ideal, but thinking that her behavior would get better as she is with us, instead it just gets more sneaky and manipulative. Thoughts?
Whenever our children demonstrate behaviors that we do not like, it helps to figure out what she gets out of doing it and why it continues. To figure that out, it helps to ask yourself the 5 W's;
Who, who is she stealing from, who is around when she steals?
What, what happens as a result of her stealing?
When, when does this happen, during the week, day time, night time, recess?
Where, where is this happening, only at school, in public, at home?
Why, why does she want these things, why is she taking them?
The next step is to teach her to get that need met in a more positive way by teaching alternative behaviors or skills that he can do. He should be taught "Honesty", "Asking Permission", "Respecting other's Property". To teach these skills we recommend using 3 simple steps;
1. Describe what you would like her to do. (Be specific and clear)
2. Give her a good reason for doing it this way. (Make sure it is a reason she can see the benefit to him.)
3. Have her practice what you have described. ( Have her actually do it, not just tell you what she would do.)
As a result of stealing, she should learn perhaps to "Ask Permission" rather than touching others things, then she should have to give it back, apologize to the person it belongs to and ask what she can do to make up for taking it.
Monitor her carefully for a while, perhaps checking her pockets and back pack daily when she comes from school or from an outing. Check her room thoroughly to monitor objects that are new or out of place.
At her age, this issue should be addressed daily, in the morning, after school and again at bed time. If time goes by and you do not see the behavior as frequently, praise her and slowly ease back on the monitoring. Getting a handle on this behavior while she is young will be important for her social development and to prevent serious issue in the future.