Dealing with child’s habit of stealing things

Children do not understand the concept of “stealing” so instead of dealing with this situation using your anger, it is better to sit with your child and make him/her understand why they should not be doing this. Stealing is something which a child does out of curiosity.

  • Maybe the child is picking up simple things like stationery which is very attractive to them. They don’t know what stealing is but if they like something, they pick it up and keep it for themselves. They don’t understand that the particular thing is not possessed by them so they cannot take it home.
  • If you find some unknown objects in their bag, just simply go and ask them about where they get it from. If they say it was one of their classmates’ or if they start giving any explanations, make them sit and talk to them in a very calm manner.
  • Do not get aggressive and scold them. Instead tell them, “It does not belong to you. If it does not belong to you, you cannot bring it home. If you need anything of this sort, you come home and ask us, we will get it for you. Don’t make it a habit of picking up things from wherever you like.”
  • Stealing is a concept which we understand. As a young child, they don’t understand this; it is just a simple behaviour where they feel, they just liked something and took it away. They do not understand the concept that this doesn’t belong to me or how I can take it when it is somebody else’s thing. Be verbal, make them understand and explain to them what stealing is and what are the consequences of stealing.
  • For example, explain to them that if they continue with stealing as a habit even after growing up, they might end up in jail.
  • This is just making them learn about what exactly they are doing is not a behaviour which is socially acceptable and is considered to be wrong.
  • Don’t start getting aggressive on them without explaining. If it becomes a continuous behaviour even after explaining, then you need to get it checked that what pleasure they are getting out of this habit.
  • Keep a check on your child if this turns out to be a continuous habit. Make them understand that they will have to face consequences because of this. Do not tell them that they will be punished but for example, if the child has picked up something from someone, make it a point that they go to that person, return the thing in their hand the next day and apologise for the same.
  • This will make them realise that this is something they cannot do however hard they like.
  • Children learn what is appropriate and what is not through proper guidance. If any action or behaviour is appropriate, (s)he will be appreciated and would be found guilty for inappropriate action.

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