How To Deal with Your Child Stealing: The Case Of The Extra Webkinz Cat


How To Deal with Your Child Stealing

It is a moment all parent would dread- catching your child stealing something. It is not uncommon at all, but of course you don’t want it to happen. You will first need to figure out why they stole and then figure out how to deal with the situation. Above all stay calm and you can get through this.Younger kids sometimes steal just because they want something and don’t really think about it. This can be part of their development that is not complete yet. You need to explain that stealing is never acceptable and you do not approve of this behavior.

Today I got a phone call that I thought I would never ever get.

A call from the principal.

“Jazzy is sitting in my office right now.”

Jazzy’s principal had a question to ask me…”how many WEbkinz did Jazzy come home with yesterday?”

There was no way that I could forget. Jazzy was so excited when I picked her up from school yesterday to show me the two Webkinz cats that she said she was able to pick out from the number of sales she made for her school fundraiser.

“Mommy, I got TWO because I sold NINE. Everyone that sold nine got to pick out TWO Webkinz!”

“Oh for lucky!”, I responded and I didn’t think anything of it after that…until now.

Apparently TWO was not the number Jazzy was supposed to come home with and she was now sitting in the principal’s office hiding in the corner, while the principal talked to me on the phone. She wouldn’t talk to the principal because obviously she felt bad about what she did. Guilt and remorse means it won’t happen again, right?

So now, I had to figure out how the heck I was going to handle this predicament because the way I handle this was going to totally make or break this situation.

With any child caught stealing you will want to have them make restitution or return an item that was taken from a store. Pre teen children might steal to get attention or to fit in. This age is hard, so try to be a little understanding. Keep the lines of communication open and try to find out what made your child decide to steal something. As them (calmly) if this is the first time they have done this. If they admit to having a recurring problem then they might need professional help. Reaffirm that you love them, but they know your values and stress that we cannot just take something we want to have. Older kids often steal due to peer pressure or just for ‘fun’.

Again, you will want to remain calm and try to get to the root cause of the behavior. Don’t lecture your teen, but let them know you are disappointed and will not tolerate this unethical behavior. Make sure your teen is not overly stressed- what else has been going on in their life? With any child, let them know that you will be watching them more closely and that they will have to re-earn your trust. If you have to make restitution, give your child jobs to pay you back so they do feel the consequences. Hopefully they will learn their lesson and not resort to theft ever again.

The way we resolved the case of the extra Webkinz pet? I talked to little Lola and explained to her that we do not take things that aren’t ours and that we need to return the Webkinz cat to the principal, who would then return the cat to its rightful owner. And we did. She felt remorse. She was embarrassed and so scared to walk into school that day so I am pretty sure she will not steal again.

Have you ever have to deal with a child stealing? How did you handle it?

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  1. I haven’t dealt with it yet, however, I remember my mom telling me that I stole an Elmo once from a store. Luckily she saw that I had it when we got back to the car and we quickly ran back in to return it and apologize. I was apparently embarrassed, but don’t really remember it. I was young (I think 4 wish) but I will say that I have not done it since, so the embarrassment must have been enough for me. 🙂

  2. I haven’t had to deal with it yet, but I hope to be able to handle it much like you do if it does come up!

  3. I think you handled it well. It’s so awkward for them to have to return the item, I’m sure, but I’m thinking it’s a hugely important part of the learning process. Well done!

  4. I’m a teacher, and I’ve had lots of experience with children and stealing. I agree, it is important to remain calm and to talk with the child about what motivated them to steal. It’s almost always a case of the child wanted the thing, so she took it. They don’t really understand that it hurts the person they took from, and they’re still learning about earning nice things.

  5. Sounds like you handled it well! We haven’t ever dealt with stealing but I can understand how easy it is for a child to want to take something that isn’t theirs.

  6. When my youngest daughter was five she took a keychain from the grocery store checkout counter. Once I discovered it, we went back into the store, asked to see the store manager and she returned it to him with an apology. It never happened again. This parenting stuff is rough!

  7. Thankfully, my girls never stole anything, but they were on the receiving end of having things stolen from them. One being a very expensive iPod from a close friend. It really makes them think how it made them feel to have that happen, and while I wish it didn’t, it was a good learning tool for them. You handled the situation very well.

  8. Actually as a very young child I took some candy from a corner store–Once my Dad figured out what I had done he marched me back to the store and made me give it back. Turns out the guy knew what I had done but decided not to say anything because I was so young. Let’s just say that lesson stuck with me to this very day. My Dad did explain to me that in order to have the candy we had to pay for it!

  9. I have not has steeling cases, but I had other cases that needed to be dealt with. As long as you are calm and can listen to every side of the story, the situation will be fine.

  10. You did a great job handling this situation. We just went through this with my teen… he took some change from his brothers piggy bank. Parenting is hard..

  11. At 5, we’ve had a couple of incidents with my son where he’s taken thinks that aren’t his. I always make sure and have him give them back, right away. It’s a tricky age and a tricky topic.

  12. I stole a pen and a pack of post-it notes from my grandma’s house when I was about 8. My mom took me back over there and made me apologize and return them – I felt HORRIBLE, too. My grandma’s response was to go buy me a pack of pens and a pack of post-its LOL

  13. I can remember stealing a bottle of nail polish when I was really little. My Mom made me bring the polish back to the store and apologize to the checkout lady. I never stole again.

  14. Oh I can remember when my daughter was in kindergarten and she brought home something from her class and I called the principal and told on her and set up a meeting. Having her walk into that office and confess was punishment enough and hopefully it never happens again as she was scared straight!

  15. This is a vey important message as you are right, many children make this decision. Using it as a teachable moment is the best way to deal with it.

  16. I’ve never had to encounter this before and I am praying that I don’t ever have to. I think you did an awesome job dealing with the situation and hopefully the lesson was learned after this incident.

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