Dealing with a Child who Steals?

Pamela - posted on 11/16/2011 ( 9 moms have responded )

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My 8-year-old son steals all the time. We feed him yet he's constantly telling people that we don't feed him and steals 'treats' at school. He's been stealing money from us everything from a quarter to $50. He's quick about it and he also is comfortable with lying about it all too (and anything else).

What can I do?

I refuse to give in and send us into the poor house just to provide him with more treats. This message says that if I don't want him to steal it I'll give it to him. What happens at 16 when he wants a car?!?!

I'm really reaching the end of my rope and I'm really angry with him about this. My husband too is very angry.

We've tried being nice, we've tried being mean. But no matter what his behaviour seems to be spinning very far out of control. He has ZERO respect.

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Shauna - posted on 11/21/2011

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Hm. Yeah, his requests are a bit more than normal 8 year olds would be begging for constantly. :( I'm so sorry you have to try to clean up the mess someone else made by spoiling him. If he feels so entitled, you could do what I've heard of people doing, where you take everything out of the room but the bed and a few clothes and then good behavior buys back stuff (have very specific guidelines about it, with a list in order of what he earns for what). It's a possibility that might be a better fit.

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Monica - posted on 03/20/2014

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I am new to the site and was wondering what to do about my soon to be 11yr old son(who has PDD,ADHD, and anxiety disorder) who has been lying and taking things from students at school and throwing out his lunches we pack then 'taking' lunch from school when he knows he didn't have money to buy it. We tried many things from apology letters to grounding him to making him pay the people back, nothing seems to get through to him. Any suggestions?
Thanks,
Monica

Samantha - posted on 04/16/2012

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i am having the same issues with my 8 year old son he lives with his dad and his dad has and step mom and i have tryed everything we can think of a cop has talked to him and everything else nothing helps we are all at the end of our ropes with this we have no idea where else to turn or what to do to make him stop it is on going at home school stores it done matter to him where he is if he wants it he takes it and when we ask why he says cause i wanted it or i dont know

Pamela - posted on 11/21/2011

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Shauna,
The asking chart sounds great for someone like my younger son. But my older son is always asking for things like a DSi, or a laptop, or whatever other expensive things he can think of. With requests like that there is no yes. I can't just spend $200 and up just to say yes every once in a while. I know that handheld game systems are popular but he doesn't get to play games unless he stays dry a certain number of nights (yes he's still wet often) so even so buying him a DSi would be pretty pointless and just give him something else to sneak/steal at home.

The issue is he had non-custodial parents in his life for a while and they bought him anything he wanted, it didn't matter the cost at all. And since then he's developed a very 'entitled' attitude. He figures he's entitled to anything he wants to he takes it, even if it's not his.

Tinker1987 - posted on 11/20/2011

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i would also try the police officer thing.a good harsh reality.bad kids turn into really bad teenagers and so on.i have a couson who was like that and now he is 27 and bad to the bone.and in a mess with drugs.beacuse his parents didnt dicipline him good,and brushed alot off. good luck.

Shauna - posted on 11/20/2011

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I taught third grade, and one student who was caught stealing just popped in my mind. She was stealing because, well, she wanted the things the other kids had. I had a private discussion with her about how she's feel if her stuff was taken, would that be fair, etc. She really seemed to take it to heart and shaped up for the most part. I don’t know if it’s possible your child really just needs it kindly spelled out.
You could also try sitting him down and explaining that Mom and Dad are in charge of giving him everything he needs, and go over examples of needs and wants. Sometimes we want things (not need) so we ask for them, we don't take them. Sometimes the answer is yes, and sometimes it is no. Go on, "From now on, when you want something, you need to ask. Sometimes I will say yes, and sometimes I will say no. And either way, it's okay, because you don't really need it. This week I’d like you to work on asking for what you want and being okay with whatever the answer is—not throwing a fit or stealing if it’s not what you want. Right before bed we’ll mark on the calendar a happy face or sad face for how you did. If you get 4 (or whatever you think’s reasonable) happy faces this week, we’ll ______ (insert enjoyable activity, like going to the park or getting a McDonald’s sundae or something).” Then every time he asks for something you can go over if he needs it or not, and if he can have it or not. Make sure to let him have some of his wants or you will never get him on “your side”. When you say no and he reacts well, praise him a ridiculously large amount, but sincerely. “I am so proud of you for taking my saying no so well! That really shows me how smart and thoughtful you are.” I only have a 1 year old, but this scenario is very similar to strategies used when I was teaching, and it really works wonders to talk, make a plan, praise throughout, and have the kid self-assess at the end of the day, and I taught kids in third grade, so really applicable I think.

Jenn - posted on 11/18/2011

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I think Michelle has a great idea, organise a local sheriff/policeman to come and have a chat with him, maybe drive him around the block in the back of the cop car. He needs to know that stealing is a crime and is very serious, that he can get in big trouble for it. Trust me, you want to deal with this now because once he is old enough to go to youth jail, they will show him no pity. And a theft charge will stick with you for life, prevent you from getting a good job, it is bad news. You need to really lay down the law and be consistent. Every single time he steals something make him return it and apologise. The worse thing you can do is let him keep the item because you are to embarrassed to return it. That is teaching him if i want something i can just take it and i will get it in the end. Lay out the consequences and stick to them. Take away his favorite item or toy and keep it away, every time he steals take something. Let him see how it feels to have something taken from him. You need to do whatever it takes because if this continues your son has a very glum future. In a couple more years he will be old enough to be criminally charged and you do not want that. Once he is "in the system" it is downhill from there. From group homes, to juvy, to prison. Not trying to scare you but you should take this very seriously. Good luck and remeber MAKE HIM RETURN ANYTHING HE STEALS and let the employee or whatever scare him a bit too. It will only do him good.

Pamela - posted on 11/16/2011

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Yes, even tried a spank. Nothing works on him at all. I feel like I can't even feel safe in my own home because of his out of control behaviour. His brother is nothing like him so I just don't understand and I don't think it's something I 'did to him'. He just has it in his mind that he's entitled to whatever he wants. It's so hard to have a loving relationship with someone who treats you so horribly.

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Scare him-next time he steals organise to have a police man come and talk to him and tell him he will go to prison or something?
Seeing as you said you already tried "being mean" I'm assuming you did things like take all his toys away and if he steals again they go to charity, no tv, no friends over etc

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