Me in a Tree

Kids and Stealing

by Eva Macyszyn, BSW, RSW

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As a parent, you don’t want to think about your child stealing. However, children tend to have poor impulse control; when they want something, they will take it. As a result, stealing can become an issue for parents.


Kids steal for a variety of reasons. Here are a few:

  • Poor impulse control,
  • To impress friends,
  • Envy,
  • Embarrassment,
  • Risk-taking,
  • Revenge, and
  • Stress

For a description of each reason, visit Family Education.


However, the hard part, as a parent, is to decide how to handle the situation when your child gets caught stealing. Here are a few tips:


Make it clear that stealing is an unacceptable behaviour. It is not okay, and you will not tolerate it.


Try to find out the reason your child is stealing. Talk to him or her. Discover the motivation. Be careful not to interrogate, ridicule, or embarrass your child. This will only cause your child to shut down and become silent. To create a positive discussion, talk with, not at or to, your child.


Use this as a good opportunity to reiterate the importance of values, ethics, and morality. Keep it short and to the point. Don’t make this a lecture.


Enforce the consequences of your child’s actions. This may require repayment or return of the item.


Take a step back and assess the situation. Does your child have a history of stealing? Are there stressors in your child’s life that are causing him or her to steal? If stealing is combined with other types of misbehaviour, you should consider seeking professional help.

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