Home > Kids > Behavior and Discipline > Behavioral Problems > Why Kids Steal -- and What to Do About It
|

Why Kids Steal -- and What to Do About It

In This Article:

Page 2

Little Kids and Stealing

Tales from the Parent Zone

Tony's mom Roxanne discovered that Tony had stolen collectable comic books from a local store with the reputation for having a “no-tolerance” policy for theft, that is, they reported all shoplifters to the police. As Tony's parent and ally, her job was both to discipline (teach) Tony not to do it again, and to protect him. Before he walked in to return the books, she called the store to find out its policy about returning stolen goods. As a parent, she had to decide if an arrest, trial, and possible record was the best thing for Tony (in some cases, though not usually, it may be). Roxanne talked with the store manager and “made a deal” for Tony to make restitution that taught him the desired lesson but didn't have lifelong consequences.

<

Five-year-old Hannah came into the house, a pack of gum in one hand, an eyeglass repair kit in the other, and a hangdog expression on her face. Her crimes had just been discovered by her dad as he got her out of the car. It was late—there was no time to go back to the store that night to return the booty, so her parents let her know that stealing was unacceptable, illegal, and wrong, and removed the stolen goods.

“People who steal things can go to jail,” her mother told her. “Not if they're little kids, and not usually for small things, but you could be arrested.”

Hannah's eyes grew wide and scared. The next day, her mother took her back to the grocery store. On the way, they planned their approach.

“Will you say it, Mommy?” Hannah asked.

“Yes, but you'll hand back the stuff you stole,” her mother said. At the cash register, Hannah listened as her mother said, “Hannah took this yesterday without paying for it. She is sorry and won't do it again.”

Unfortunately, the clerk didn't understand the lesson. “That's okay, honey,” she said to Hannah, “We didn't even notice they were missing.”

“It's not okay,” her mother corrected, firmly. “It's illegal and it's wrong.”

Then the clerk understood. “Thanks for returning these things,” she said to Hannah. “Don't do it again.”

Despite the clerk's slow response, Hannah was deeply affected by the experience. Hannah had tried a behavioral experiment and the results had alarmed her. Because the feedback wasn't enjoyable, Hannah hasn't stolen anything in the three months since the incident.



<< Previous: Page 1
|

Excerpted from The Complete Idiot's Guide to a Well-Behaved Child © 1999 by Ericka Lutz. All rights reserved including the right of reproduction in whole or in part in any form. Used by arrangement with Alpha Books, a member of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.

To order this book visit Amazon's web site or call 1-800-253-6476.


stay connected

Sign up for our free email newsletters and receive the latest advice and information on all things parenting.

Enter your email address to sign up or manage your account.

Facebook icon Twitter icon Follow Us on Pinterest

editor’s picks

mother’s day cards & crafts

Let your kids
spoil you with
homemade
goodies!

GO

highlights

Healthy Smile Checklist for Kids
Have better dental check-ups with this free printable checklist that helps keep your child flossing, brushing, and smiling! Brought to you by Philips Sonicare.

Kindergarten Readiness App
It's kindergarten registration time! Use this interactive kindergarten readiness checklist, complete with fun games and activities, to practice the essential skills your child needs for this next big step. Download the Kindergarten Readiness app today!

Top 10 Earth Day Books for Children
Celebrate the environment by reading some of these great children's books about Earth Day, recycling, planting trees, and all things green!

Prom Dress Trends for 2014
Check out 2014 prom dress trends inspired by celebrities’ red carpet looks, but with a price tag under $100!