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sillysami
sillysami asks:
Q:

How do I stop my child from stealing?

My 7 year old step-son is constantly stealing and lying. Over the last week he has stolen a video game, traded his mom's play station for a bike, and ran off to "friends'" house. Worst of all, in one day he stole almost $600 dollars in cash from our bedroom and safe, as well as a digital camera from our closet. After being caught and lying repeatedly about where the money was and being grounded with all of his video games and such taken from him. He still continues to steal, he goes into our room and takes change from out change bucket and lies about it. I'm fed up with his behavior but we have no idea what to do or how to handle all this constant stealing. Help!!
In Topics: Discipline and behavior challenges
> 60 days ago

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Expert

Boys Town National Hotline
Aug 30, 2011
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What the Expert Says:

Hello and thanks for contacting Education.com

You said your step son is 7 years old, but we are wondering if you meant he is 17 years old? It would be extremely difficult for a 7 year old to steal and lie to this extent, so we will assume you meant a 17 year old teen!

Since nothing you have done up to this point has changed his behavior, you can take the next logical step and call police the next time he steals from you. In most states he is still considered a juvenile but if you wait until he is 18 and he is caught, he will be prosecuted as an adult. Your step son needs to understand there are consequences to breaking the law. Through juvenile court he may have the chance to go through a diversion program for first offenders. Usually there is mandatory community service and counseling as well as having to pay a fine. Many times this scares kids and deters them from breaking the law again.

Please reach out to our Hotline for more parenting assistance. Counselors are available 24 hours to listen and help you through any problem you are having with your child. You can either call our toll-free Hotline or e-mail us. Our website also has many ideas and information you may be able to use.

Take care and we hope to hear from you in the near future!

Sincerely,

Cynthia, Counselor
Boys Town National Hotline
1-800-448-3000
hotline@boystown.org




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Additional Answers (4)

EdEd
EdEd writes:
Sorry to hear you're having so much trouble! The first part of solving behavior problems is figuring out the underlying reasons behind them. Think of yourself as a detective - gather more info, piece together the clues, etc. It's hard to give ideas beyond this detective phase because "what to do" will depend a lot on what you find. Let's say you discover that he's doing these things to impress a friend in the neighborhood - the solution you'd come up with would probably be very different than if he were doing it because he was angry at you and was trying to get back at you.

So, I'd say step 1 is to do some good detective work. While your doing that, I'd try to keep him as occupied and engaged as positive in fun things with someone you trust, such as yourself. It's really hard for kids to do bad things when they're having a lot of fun doing something positive. If you two are playing a game, for example, he's not very likely to get up, pick up the playstation, and walk off with it. Stealing and running away tend to happen when kids are either bored, unsupervised, angry, or otherwise not with someone trusted.

I'd suggest coming back and posting an update, or starting a new question, once you have some information about the "why," and hopefully that will generate some more ideas for strategies!
> 60 days ago

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truccobello
truccobello writes:
My personal experience, is when my mother took me back to the store to return the hair spray I took. She also made me talk to a cop that was there. I felt so embarrassed I never did it again. I was 10 years old.
> 60 days ago

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cmwells2121
cmwells2121 writes:
When my daughter was six she stole a lollypop from a convenience store and when I found out about it in the car I turned right around and drove back to the store. We went in and I made her look at the clerk and tell him that she stole the lollypop and made her hand it to him. He was helpful by telling her to never do that again and that she could get in big trouble. She is now eight and has never done anything like that again. I hope this helps.
> 60 days ago

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Dawnmcg
Dawnmcg writes:
I believe he is 7, my 8 yr old step son is the same way. Constantly stealing money and toys from other family members just to trade to other children at school. Breaking everything he owns and because he shares a room everything his brother owns too. All he had left were books in his room after the destruction which he then cut to pieces or made paper airplanes out of. I'm absolutely lost, I'm at the point where he is not allowed out of his room without supervision so nothing else disappears. We also make him empty his pockets before leaving the house. He also wets the bed at night so I buy him mattress protectors which he then tears to pieces. I told him if he tears it he has to sleep on the floor because it's easier to clean but he doesn't care. It's almost like he's a bad puppy. We put him in sports so he can act out for his friends, he seems to love being the star. But as soon as he comes home we're back to the breaking everything, not to mention the fighting with his other brothers and sister. The school calls weekly to tell me the new horrible thing he's said or done to someone. I feel bad but I'm at the point where I just count down the days to him moving out
> 60 days ago

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