What do you do when your Child is caught stealing?

Stealing is a big deal for most of us- even more than lying. And it can be quite disturbing when you find that your child has stolen something. The other day in the community that I live in, a bunch of teenagers got into trouble for shop lifting. They were affluent kids who went to international schools, wore branded jeans and could pretty much afford anything in that store let alone the 20 rupee candy bar that was pocketed. When children are really young and they take something, you can dismiss it as an impulsive activity and that they did not know better. But when your older child is caught stealing, then it can be quite disturbing. Here are a few ways to deal with it:1. Reflect: While you may want to yell and rant and rave about moralities and how you did not raise your child to steal and how you have always provided him/her whatever they wanted and that you are ashamed of them, take a deep breath and try to think about any reasons you can come up with for this behaviour. Is the product something that is banned in your house? Does it show that your child needs pocket money? Does it reflect that your child needs more freedom to buy what he/she wants? Does it show that there is a communication gap between you and your child and your child is not able to tell you what he/she wants? Are they angry about something and seeking your attention through bad behaviour?

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2. Talk: Once you are sure you are calm, sit your child down and hear his/her side of the story. Ask them to be honest with you as to why they did it. Is it because they badly wanted it? Was it a challenge by their peers? Was it a cheap thrill? Was it a power trip?  Get to the bottom of their motivations and let your child talk -desist from lecturing. But explain to them that they could land up in jail for such behaviour.3. Immediate Action: Tell your child in no uncertain terms that this behaviour is not acceptable. Have them go back to the store and return the goods immediately. Go with them. Have them apologize. This can be really a tough one for parents because we want to protect our children from pain and to go back to the store and have your child make amends can be incredibly hard. But it is the right thing to do to teach the right lesson. Sometimes small problems that are not fixed at childhood snowball into big actions as adults with much more serious consequences.

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4. Long-term Action: Start paying closer attention to your child’s activities. Ensure there is no pattern of stealing things. If there is, you might need to seek outside counsel from a therapist to fix the problem.It is very common- almost a given for parents to be in total denial that their child could actually steal something. We may also take it personally as a judgment of our parenting. However it is important that we try not to get too emotional and address the problem and fix any underlying issues which may be causing this behaviour.Dealing with a child who doesn't listen to you is difficult. Learn how to manage your stubborn child by clicking here.Featured Image Source