by Teresa, The CuteKid™ Staff
Most children try stealing at least once. How a parent reacts to the kid’s stealing usually determines whether or not the behavior is repeated. Some parents may feel that the item was insignificant and not worth really mentioning. Yet stealing often turns into a habit and as one friend pointed out nobody starts out stealing cars.
When young kids steal they often do not realize that it is wrong. They see an object that
they want and so they take it. It is up to the parent to teach their child that it is not right. If you find that your child has taken something without paying talk about how it is wrong. Take your child back to the store, make them apologize the manager, and return or pay for the item.
By the time children are about six they realize that stealing is wrong. Yet children this age
will still steal items. It may be because they want to see if they can get away with it or are struggling with loneliness or other issues. If you suspect your child stole something confront them directly. This is usually enough to make them tell the truth. Then do the same as you would with a younger child. Make him take responsibility for the stolen item and apologize.
Teenagers usually steal because of peer pressure or they want items that they cannot
afford. If kids are stealing they will usually go directly to their room and hide the object. If your child acts strangely when coming home from the store – investigate. My husband remembers the time when he and a friend stole a bunch of cassettes from a store. They were caught and the police were called. My husband’s mother allowed him to be taken to the police station in the police car. He also not only had to return the items but pay for them as well. Because of the discipline he received he never stole again.
For all children it is important that parents set a good example. Do not steal things yourself. If you find a wallet or money lying on the ground turn it in to the store and see if someone claims it. Once while four-wheeling my husband and I found a tent we turned it into the police department. After two months no one claimed it so it was ours. We can sleep in it without feeling guilty.
If despite your efforts the stealing continues you will need to determine the underlying cause for the stealing. Often a counselor can help your child overcome the desire and habit of stealing.