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working mom of 3
working mom of 3 asks:
Q:

How can I deal with my child who impulsively steals?

my 6 year old steels things from her friends at school and there homes I have talked to her several times about this and I feel that she knows its wrong but continues to do it anyway im trying to find a positive way to get her to stop. Her dad and I have divorced recently and she was seperated from me for about 3 months during our custody battle I dont know if that has anything to do with why she steels so I dont want to punish her but I do talk to her and explain why steeling is wrong Im at my witts end and need some advice....
In Topics: Discipline and behavior challenges
> 60 days ago

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Expert

Boys Town National Hotline
Feb 20, 2009
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What the Expert Says:

I understand your concern about not punishing your daughter if you believe that her behavior may be a result of your 3 month absence. It's possible that she is trying to get and keep your attention by stealing, however, not punishing her to make up for your absence will only end up backfiring.

Now is the time in your daughter's life where she begins to develop an understanding of social norms and natural consequences for inappropriate behavior. She needs to learn from you that if she continues to steal there will be serious consequences. She may be testing you to see if you will stay by her side during tough times. Even though they usually don't say it, kids want rules because they need to know that someone cares about them and will keep them safe and secure. You must start using consequences when your daughter steals. That should include making your daughter return to the owner what she stole followed by a consequence at home such as loss of privileges for a certain amount of time. It's great that you were talking to her about why stealing is wrong, so continue to do that, but in addition to talking to her about it, you need to follow through with behavioral consequences.

I hope this gives you a good start. Good luck!!

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

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Additional Answers (1)

rkaiulani
rkaiulani writes:
Hi Alicia,
Sorry to hear that you are having problems with your child. I think that this is fairly common at this age. Check out this column on the topic of six-year-olds stealing, written by a child psychologist:
http://www.education.com/magazine/column/entry/10693/
> 60 days ago

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