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ghutch
ghutch asks:
Q:

My child lies and steals, what do I do?

My 12 yr old daughter lies and steals money from my purse, dresser or any where in the house. She said she need it for snack at school and didn't want to ask me because she knew I would say no. I know she does not need snack money because she gets a healthy breakfast and lunch each day. She spends the money on snacks and also gives it out to her friends or buy them snacks too. What do I do to help her understand that stealing is not acceptable?
In Topics: Discipline and behavior challenges
> 60 days ago

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Expert

Boys Town National Hotline
Mar 13, 2009
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What the Expert Says:

Dealing with a child who lies and steals is difficult. Many parents share in this frustration. You can do many things to help your daughter understand that stealing is not acceptable. Remember that consequences change behaviors. Try to find out what are the antecedents of her choices. (Is she really hungry after a healthy breakfast and lunch? Is she trying to fit in with her friends? etc)
Your daughter is 12, and should understand right from wrong. Talk about stealing and what it means. Talk about honesty. Once you understand what level she is at, in her understanding of what stealing is and what it is to be honest, then it will be easier for you to proceed with some strategies.

Be consistent with the consequences issued and make sure you can follow through with the consequence. For example, your daughter steals, then she will have limited free time and loss of privileges when at home and need to be in charge of keeping track of the snacks bought for the home that week. A checklist form works well with keeping track of the snacks. This strategy teaches her to keep track of items, helps the household when it comes time for grocery shopping, responsibility and ultimately builds trust. If she completes this chore/task, she can choose the snack on grocery day. Remember when she makes good decisions for herself, she needs to know and hear that she is 'good'.

Continue to share with her your feelings. Let her know that you have noticed a shift in her behavior that concerns you, and as a parent, it is your responsibility to teach to and/or correct her behaviors. Share your concern that she is not only stealing money, but loosing trust with you every time she chooses to steal and then lie about it. You can also add that you are concerned that she could be stealing to 'buy' her friendships. This will be a good opportunity to teach her about relationships. Have her write out what makes a good friend. Have her list qualities of her friends and family. Remember to make sure she knows when she is being honest and that over time she will earn trust again. Talk with her friends. Talk with her friends parents and share with them your concerns. Gaining support for yourself can help with 'catching her being good'. Your daughter knows that you are monitoring her movements and choices more closely. That is a good thing. But you also want to make sure she knows how to make good choices for herself.

Parenting is a tough job. Keep teaching, encouraging and loving your daughter. Over time, you will see she will be able make better decisions, follow rules vs. stealing, and have healthy relationships.

If you need further assistance and need to talk to someone, you can call the Boys Town National Hotline at 1-800-448-3000. We have counselors available 24/7 and we talk with kids and parents about various issues. Take care and consider giving us a call.
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dgraab
Mar 2, 2009
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Best Answer!

what's this?
from a fellow member
Sorry to hear that you're having this problem with your daughter.

Have you checked out this Education.com article that gives some insight into why kids behave this way and what you can do about it?

http://www.education.com/magazine/article/The_Lowdown_Lying_Stealing_and/

Here's another one on the same topic...
http://www.education.com/reference/article/Ref_My_Child_Stealing/

I hope you are successful in getting your daughter to understand that stealing is wrong, and more importantly, that you are able to break her of this bad habit.

You might also consider using this situation as an opportunity to teach your daughter about the value of money and financial management. For instance, consider allowing her to buy snacks with her own money that she earns doing chores around the house, or that she earns through an allowance for good grades. If nutrition is a concern, you could set some guidelines or specific rules around the types of snacks she is allowed to buy at school, or talk with the school about the types of snacks they are making available (encouraging them to make healthy choices available, and reduce or eliminate the unhealthy choices). This way, your daughter could still participate in the snack ritual (which she may be using as a way to socialize with her peers), while also learning important lessons about money management. Could be a win-win solution for both of you.
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Additional Answers (1)

DIAHNA
DIAHNA writes:
go in her room and sneak something out that means alot to her. start taking her belongings an let her see how it feels. you need to discipline her every time she steals from you. srart putting your money in different places. so she cant get into it. give her chores during the week to be able to earn money. so she can have her own money to take to school or where ever. Remember its easier to start teaching them now than to wait til its too late!! she will get into more trouble if she steals from someone else when she gets older.
> 60 days ago

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