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Real Parenting: Stop, Thief!

Stop, Thief!

by SM Ford

We sympathize with Aladdin (Disney movie) stealing bread at the market and having to escape … especially since he gives the bread to some younger children who are starving. Gru in Despicable Me (Illumination Arts) steals and is funny. However, we don’t want our own children emulating either character.

It’s common for young kids to steal at least once. So, what’s a parent to do?

First, don’t get angry. Definitely okay to show disappointment, but the younger the child, he or she may not really understand that the action is wrong. The candy was at his level. The polished rock was pretty. Mommy lets me have money so taking it off of her bedside table is okay.

Explain why taking the object(s) is wrong. For example, “We don’t take what doesn’t belong to us.” Or: “It’s called stealing to take something from a store and not pay for it.” It may be helpful to use their own special possessions to get the point across. “Would you want someone to take your bunny? It would make you sad, wouldn’t it? If we take from others, it makes them sad, too.”

Make the child give the item back and apologize. Or, if they consumed candy, make them pay for it (out of their own piggy bank is best) and apologize. If a child has no money, you can have them earn the money with an extra chore.

This article talks about reasons why a child might steal or lie.

Here’s some great info to help if a child repeats the offense.

And here’s a list of books about money that might be helpful.

But what about older children? Here’s some very useful information and suggestions.

Be encouraged that you aren’t alone in this parenting issue.


About the Author

SM Ford is a Pacific Northwest gal, who has also lived in the Midwest (Colorado and Kansas) and on the east coast (New Jersey). She and her husband have two daughters and two sons-in-law and three grandsons. She can't figure out how she got to be old enough for all that, however.

Sue likes traveling and animals, especially those in the cat family, and has a dog and cat who own her.

She loves kids and writing. You can find out more about her at her website or on Twitter.

You can read Sue’s “Real Parenting” column on the 4th Thursday each month here at Pandora’s Box Gazette.

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