Skip to content

How to Deal with Stealing Habits in Children

Sometimes, children take what doesn’t belong to them, which can be distressing for you as a parent. For example, you take your son with you to the department store, and he brings out a toy car on getting home. Of course, the first thing that’ll come to any parent’s mind would be that their son is now a thief. That would be disturbing because nobody wants their child to be tagged a thief.

If you’ve discovered that your child has a habit of taking things that don’t belong to him, don’t panic. Below are steps you can take to deal with the stealing habits of your child.

  • Calm Down

First, you need to cast that thought that your child is now a thief out of your mind. Don’t label your child a thief; instead, remain calm and handle the situation maturely. How you react to this situation matters a lot because your disposition can help or prevent your child from learning. Whatever you do, ensure you muster up the stance that there are worse things in life and everything will be okay.

  • Go Back to the Store

Stop whatever you’re doing as soon as you discover the item and return to the store with your child. Avoid the urge to scold and yell at your child on your way to the department store. Please don’t ask him why he took the item because there’s a good chance he has no idea why. Asking him why he did what he did won’t give you the answers or solution you’re looking for.

Children act impulsively; they don’t have a clear intention for what they do. Thus, demanding that he tell you why he took the item will help no one, especially him. He will only be on the defense, which won’t help him learn – and there’s a good chance he’ll do it again.

  • Give It Back

When you get back to the store, ask to see whoever is in charge; remain calm and controlled. Remaining calm and silent with your son standing next to you creates the perfect scene for your child to apologize. When the manager is out, let him speak, but don’t force him; speak for him if he doesn’t speak up. Apologize on his behalf and leave quietly; this awkward silence speaks more words and works more effectively than yelling.

You must remain quiet and let the awkward silence do the talking for you. You want to resist the urge to break the silence with the pointless parenting phrases you probably grew up with. You’ve taught your son in more ways than one that he didn’t do the right thing by taking that item. Even if he doesn’t come to apologize to you immediately, he will remember this lesson the next time you both go to the store.

  • On the Ride Home

At this point, you may be tempted to let out all the frustration you’ve felt since you found the item. The essence of all this is to ensure you refrain from directing any derogatory statement toward your son – even on the ride home. Maintain the silence in the car and resist the temptation to vent; if your son wants to talk, let him. When he does, let your responses be kind and not directed at making him feel sorry for stealing.

Keep your responses as open-ended questions; this gives your child the room and confidence to say more. For instance, you can ask him what he would have done if he was the manager. This approach will help him think more about and feel more responsible for what happened.

  • Don’t Talk About It Immediately

You can still talk about the incident, but only after a while, after the mood is less tense. The more relaxed you remain, the better you can handle the situation with a clear mind and effectively. You will know the right words to use, and they’ll sink in organically, thus allowing for more effective learning. Then, maybe later that night, on the next day, talk about the incident with your son. 

However, first, ask him if you could talk with him; start the heart-to-heart discussion with him if he says yes. Then, close the case by telling him how his actions made him feel; don’t forget to do it constructively. Sharing how the situation made you feel is certainly okay; what matters is how you express your feelings.


Parents often yell at, criticize, accuse, or spank their children because those responses yield immediate results. However, immediate though they may be, those results don’t last; there’s a good chance they’ll worsen the problem. Dealing with stealing habits in your child starts with you; your disposition to the situation matters a lot.

The more mature and calm you handle the situation, the more productive the results will be. On the other hand, if you shout at and criticize your child, you may lead him to worse behaviors. For example, he’ll begin to lie to avoid being scolded, and he’ll get defensive about your threatening approach.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *