Ricky Sticky Fingers

Help! My Kids STEALS!

When a person takes something that belongs to somebody else without permission, it is stealing. The stolen object could be as small as a piece of candy, or as big as a car. It could even be somebody else’s words or ideas.

People steal for various reasons: A young child may not understand that taking something that they “want” is wrong. School-aged children understand the concept of right and wrong, but may not have the maturity or self-control needed to conquer temptation. Older children may choose to steal because of peer pressure in an attempt to “fit in.”

People may choose to steal because they are trying to fill the void of something that is missing in their lives, making them sad, angry, neglected or jealous. Some people steal because they feel that they are “entitled.” Others may not have enough respect for the rules and rights of others, steal simply for the thrill of getting away with it, or they may have developed some type of an addiction.

Regardless of the reason, stealing can have serious consequences because it hurts everyone involved. To counteract this problem, stealing must be addressed in a proactive manner. Here are a few tips:

• When a young child steals, parents need to do everything they can to help that child understand that stealing is wrong. (i.e. have the child return the stolen item, offer an apology for taking the item, use empathy to explain how stealing makes others feel etc.)

• If you do not know who stole the item, but you have a strong suspicion, it may help to blame the item (i.e. “Class, Dominic’s ninja guy woke up from his nap and escaped from my special box!,” Miss Rabon said. “Everyone start looking for him. Make sure he isn’t trying to hide out in one of your pockets.”

• With a school-aged child, it is important for that child to return the stolen item, and offer to make amends. Explain to the child how and why stealing is wrong, and develop a consequence for a poor behavior choice.

• When teens steal, it’s recommended that parents and educators follow through with stricter consequences. The embarrassment of having to return a stolen item and answering to authority can make for an everlasting lesson on why stealing is wrong.

• Further punishment, particularly physical punishment, is unnecessary and could make the child angry and more likely to engage in even more destructive and/or reactive behavior.
If a child has stolen on more than one occasion, there may be a deeper reason for this behavior and professional help may been needed. If this happens, contact your family therapist or counselor, family physician, school counselor, religious counselor, or public support group.

Julia Cook is a national award winning children’s author, former counselor, and parenting expert. She has presented in over 700 schools across the country, regularly delivers keynote addresses at national education and counseling conferences, and has 34 published children’s books. The goal behind all of Julia’s books and efforts is to actively involve young people into her fun and creative stories and teach them to become life-long problem solvers. Inspirations for her books come from working with children and carefully listening to parents and teachers.

For more information or to purchase this book please visit Julia Cook Online

About the Author...
Julia Cook
Julia Cook is an award-winning children’s book author and parenting expert.
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