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?