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Discipline & Guidance



Parents are often surprised by the dishonesty of their children and are not sure what to do when their child steals. Understanding why children may steal can be helpful in dealing with stealing.

Why Children May Steal:

  • Lack of self control.
  • Peer pressure. Friends might dare a child to steal.
  • To impress friends. A child might steal to give things to others in order to buy their friendship.
  • Revenge. A child might take something of another child to get back at that child for various reasons.
  • To get attention from parents. A child that feels neglected by a parent might steal in order to receive attention, even if it is negative attention.
  • Boredom. If a child is bored, stealing would provide excitement.
  • Lack of money.
  • Environment. A child may live in an environment that condones stealing.

Tips for Dealing with Stealing

  • Model honest behavior. If a cashier gives you too much change, let your child go with you to return the excess.
  • Communicate the importance of respecting others and their belongings. Show respect for your child and his belongings.
  • Get to the root of the problem and deal with it quickly. For instance, if peer pressure is the cause, help your child find new trustworthy friends.
  • Support your child in returning or paying for the stolen object.
  • Explain that stealing affects many people. For instance, stealing from a store affects the store owners and their families as well as other consumers because the owners will raise prices to make up for their loss.
  • Give the child a chance to manage money. A modest allowance could be helpful in teaching your child money management.
  • Do not label your child as a thief. After all, this could be a one time offense.

If your child continues to steal after trying these suggestions, seek help from a professional counselor.