How To Deal With Children Stealing Money – What should you do when your child steals? How to discipline older and younger children for stealing and misbehaving.
Your five-year-old daughter asks you to buy a candy bar, but you say no. “Today I am only getting groceries for the week. No candy,” you reply quietly but firmly.
How To Deal With Children Stealing Money
But when you put her in her car seat, you notice something shiny sticking out of her pocket. Your face starts to heat up as you realize what has happened.
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Take some time to think about your options. You can start directly to punish Shiksha, or you can ask her if she bought anything from the store. You can march her inside to the right to return the stolen item.
When young children steal, it is important to discipline them in a firm, yet loving manner. But what happens when older children who know better start shopping or taking things from others?
Stealing is a very common behavioral problem that many children will engage in. How to respond to theft depends on your child’s age and the specifics of the situation.
If you’re worried that your child might be a bit of a kleptomaniac, fear not. Here are age-specific ideas for handling a child who takes something that doesn’t belong to them.
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There are many reasons why children take things that don’t belong to them. Young children may steal because they just want something and don’t have the self-control to stop themselves. It could be jealousy, revenge or a strong desire for something. Or maybe they just don’t know any better.
As children grow older, they may steal out of jealousy, revenge, or even desire. But if it is more than an isolated incident, the bad behavior may be motivated by peer pressure, rebellion, or a desire to impress their peers. If the stealing behavior seems to come out of nowhere, there may be an underlying problem to address.
Children who continue to steal after several attempts to dissuade them may have something else going on. Experiencing trauma can lead to problems with impulse control or compulsive stealing.
Let’s start with the youngest children – toddlers and preschoolers. If a two or three year old takes something from a store or from their sibling, their parents need to tell them very clearly that we don’t take things from other people without permission.
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In the case of the store, we need to buy it, and an adult needs to say “yes”.
Let them put the item back or take it from them and give it back yourself. However it is. No punishment or consequences are required.
Remember that discipline means “to teach.” At this stage of development, your child is still learning about ownership and permission. Keep it simple and don’t get angry. But, remember to be consistent. If you don’t want them to steal as they grow up, make sure not to allow it now.
As children enter elementary school, it’s important to have a more serious discussion about why stealing is wrong. You need to return anything your child takes from the place of business.
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A sales associate or manager may choose to have a word with them and that is really ideal. Regardless, be sure to have your own conversation about why it’s not okay to take something without paying for it.
If your child is taking things from other children’s backpacks or from a friend’s house, it may actually be wise to engage in dialogue between parents or teachers. It is best to avoid ongoing drama between children and put it back to them. Both parents and teachers should talk to the child privately about misbehavior.
In the case of taking items from family members, you may want to return the items to your child and make some form of restitution, such as an apology note.
Avoid trying to scare your child by telling him that he might go to jail or that he is a bad kid. This is not necessary and is likely to do more harm than good. Focus on the present moment and the moral lesson you want to teach.
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Most likely, children will not steal the first time if you have responded seriously. But, some children will continue to take things. Repeated theft may be the root cause.
It’s important to seek professional help if you can’t identify the root cause or if you don’t know how to stop the behavior. More and more harsh punishments are unlikely to help a young child who is struggling emotionally.
Teenagers and preteens generally understand that stealing is not okay. They know right from wrong, yet children steal at this age. Adolescents may steal to rebel or impress their peers.
They may enjoy thrills, or they may suffer from low self-esteem. In many cases, it’s a phase, but that doesn’t mean you should wait for it to pass.
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If you discover that your child steals, it’s important to have a serious conversation about both the moral reasons for not stealing and the legal implications. If your child is caught stealing and the police are called, try to stay calm.
They are still minors and this will not go on their record. Arrests can be a really effective natural consequence. It may be better for them to learn their lesson now and it will be on their record when they are older.
If your teen has stolen money or things from you, focus on trust in your conversation with them. Let them make amends or pay you back (in cash or with extra work).
As with young children, you really aren’t going to solve this behavior problem by yelling loudly or taking away all of your child’s privileges. However, if you don’t feel you can trust them, it’s okay to limit their freedom. Make sure you have a plan for them to regain your trust.
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You can teach your children from a young age that there are things that belong to others. Keep your language positive. Say “It’s Sarah’s scooter” instead of “It’s not yours”.
Try to take your little one to the store with you at least some of the time. This is a good place to talk about paying for things. Keeping it simple with toddlers – we have to pay for groceries before we take them home. As your children get older, you can start having conversations about livelihood. You can call them a simplified version of the consumerism chain.
For example, when buying milk, you can talk about how the farmer needs to feed his family, so he sells milk in the shop. The store owner needs to feed his family, so he sells milk to us. This is a good way to start understanding the structure of society and why stealing is considered bad.
Even older children can understand the golden rule – do unto others as you would have them do unto you. Ask them how they would feel if someone took something from them without their permission.
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Adolescents and tweens are developing their own moral compass and their sense of justice. Talk to them about what kind of person they want to be and what that person would do in situations. You can also find trust and responsibility with teenagers.
They want your trust, and they want more freedom and responsibilities. Talk about how freedom and responsibility are related. Shoplifting or taking money from their parents does not indicate that they can be trusted to handle more independence.
You may be wondering if you should handle shoplifting differently than stealing from a family member or friend. Moral communication is basically the same in both cases. Taking what is not yours is wrong. We live in a society where ownership exists and we respect the property of others.
Your conversation about a store owner needing to support his family may be a little different than your discussion about respecting a sibling’s property. But the overarching idea is that we do not take without permission or payment.
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That being said, things are a little less personal in store. Shoplifting is also punishable by law. It is important that your child knows this, even if he is in elementary school.
Theft can be a phase, especially for teenagers who may steal money, alcohol, or other items that are not believed to be theirs. Young children may also go through a stealth phase when they are testing limits and learning what they can and cannot do.
But just because it’s a phase doesn’t mean you should let it pass. It is important to take a stand and be firm about your family values. This helps children – from toddlers to teenagers – feel safe and secure.
You must address the theft firmly and immediately. The fact that it may be a phase can be comforting to you as a parent. But you still need to answer it.
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