Many parents may find it difficult to understand why a child may begin to steal. No matter what your child’s reasons are, stealing is just not acceptable. But before you ground him for days on end, it may help if you also learn more about the nature of his act. Children steal for a number of reasons, and it is important that you determine the root of the problem so you can better help your child.
Young kids steal because they may just grab something they find interesting without knowing that they have to pay for it. For school-aged kids, they may steal because they are too pressured to fit in with a peer group. At this stage, kids are pretty much aware that stealing is bad, but they may still do it because they have poor impulse control.
Children may also steal because they are seeking attention from their parents. Some kids resort to stealing as a form of rebellion, while others may just do it for the thrill of getting away with it. For older kids, they may steal because they need the money to support drug or alcohol habits.
Stealing is something that should never be tolerated, but it is a clear indication that your child badly needs your help. Explain to a young child that even getting a chocolate bar from a store is a form of stealing. Let him know that before he can take an item from a store, he needs to pay for it first. You can then take the child back to the store so he can apologize and pay for the item.
For school-aged kids, you need to enforce stricter consequences to prevent the repetition of the act. At this age, kids may be too embarrassed to ask for an apology, and it can leave a lasting impression when they have to owe up to their mistakes. And even if you pay for the item, you need to be very clear that he has to pay you back for it. You may assign your child extra chores around the house like doing the dishes for a specific time period. Children should never feel that they can easily get away with stealing because it may result to a cycle.
If your child got something from his classmate, you need to talk him into calling his friend so he can make amends. It is also very important for parents to remember that although a child may have committed a mistake, he should never feel that he is a thief all his life. Moreover, he should never be embarrassed or ridiculed especially in front of other people. Bear in mind that it is through mistakes like these that kids learn valuable life lessons.
Try to determine what provoked your child to steal. If you can identify the cause, you can respond positively to the situation. It is also the best time to discuss ethics and values to your child. Remind the rules that you want to be followed, and be certain that your child understands that stealing is an act that can get him into serious trouble.
It is vital that you have open communication lines with your kids. Don’t try to talk to them only when you need to reprimand them for something that they did. If you regularly communicate with your kids, you will get the chance to learn more about their daily activities. With proper guidance, kids are less likely to engage in inappropriate behavior.
If your child still continues to steal despite your efforts or if you already notice a certain pattern, it may be best to consult a doctor or a therapist. By recognizing that there is a problem, you can ensure that your child gets the help that he needs to overcome this challenging phase in his life.