Parenting Solutions: Stealing
Takes things from peers or family members without asking and knows it to be wrong; shoplifts or steals
The Change to Parent For
Your child understands the value of honesty and realizes that stealing is wrong, and her actions match her conscience and your family values.
You see your child take a candy bar from the store and put it in her pocket. You notice your daughter put her friend's Barbie under her jacket as she leaves the playgroup. You find a video game in your son's closet, and know it doesn't belong to him. Your child has everything he could possible want, so why would he steal? Do you have the makings of a kleptomaniac on your hands? Now what is a parent to do?
Discovering that your kid has stolen something is guaranteed to shake even the calmest parent. Be assured that stealing is far more common than you might realize—especially among the younger set, who still have a flimsy grasp of ownership and an underdeveloped conscience. It's not until between five and seven that kids usually understand the hurtful effects of stealing. But once they grasp that stealing violates someone's rights and can result in serious legal action against them, the problem becomes much more serious. And stealing has become a troubling new youth trend.
Store owners tell me shoplifting is so common that they are forced to install pricey security cameras and hire guards—youths are always the biggest offenders. In an attempt to curtail the problem, malls across America now demand that parents accompany their kids. School libraries are installing security systems to detect book theft. Principals complain that one of the biggest discipline issues is having to deal with students stealing from one another. (Hint on this one: tell your child to leave those expensive electronic gadgets at home!) Research also finds that most kids don't steal out of financial need or greed: they typically have more than they could ever need or want. Although stealing is a common childhood problem, it should never be allowed. The impact on your child's conscience, reputation, and honesty quotient is just too great. One thing is certain: how you react can be either destructive or productive in helping your child learn right from wrong and stop or repeat this troublesome behavior. Here are six solutions to nip this troublesome behavior in the bud ASAP.
Pay Attention to This!
Although stealing is highly inappropriate and should never be allowed, it is a typical part of growing up and does not necessarily connote a more serious problem. However, seek the help of a trained mental health professional if you notice your older child exhibiting these warning signs:
- Your child's stealing episodes are increasing in frequency, or the stolen items are much more expensive.
- Your child displays other worrisome behavior problems (such as truancy, impulsivity, defiance, setting fires, cruelty to animals, and signs of depression)
- Your child has no sense of shame, regret, or guilt about stealing. He doesn't think stealing is wrong.
- Your instinct says something is not right, and your worry has lasted too long. Get help!
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