31 answers

7 Year Old Stealing

My sister's daughter is 7 and she has a stealing problem. Her mom is always finding little things she takes from other kids at school or daycare. She asks her daughter why she stole and the daughter will just say because "she liked it" or "it was pretty." My sister makes her take the things she steals back to who they belong too, but she needs to know how to stop her from doing this. My sister has tried everything she can think of to dicipline her daughter but nothing seems to work. My neice doesn't care if she looses privleges or has to sit in time out or anything. Nothing works. She acts like she doesn't care about what punishment she gets, she is very bratty about it. Does anyone have any ideas on how my sister can help her daughter?

1 mom found this helpful

What can I do next?

Featured Answers

Most likely she is looking for attention. Try positive reinforcement by giving her alone time once a week for not steeling anything. Something simple that doesn't cost a dime or very little! It's about the time being spent together. Play a game, bake a muffins, or go to the park are just a few ideas.

D. S

Gently get the police involved. Police usually have no problem helping parents stop this behavior. They have age appropriate tactics to let a child now that this behavior is unacceptable. They will do it in a matter of fact way, but kindly at the same time for younger children. They will also expose her to what will happen if this continues. Usually it will shock the child and you will never have this type of problem again. (and it may even help her be on her best behavior always) If it seems to harsh, you could start with letting her know that the next time she does it she will have to go to the police station, but definately follow through. Good luck.

I made arrangements for my 6yo son to do "community service" at his school when he stole something. He had to give up his recesses to help in the classroom he stole from.

More Answers

Hi A..

I suggest that when your sister makes her daughter return the stolen item, she also makes her 'give up' one of her pretty things. It could go into a box to give to charity, or a box that she has to earn back by good behaviour (ie not stealing), or it could simply be given to the child she stole from.

That way, she learns how it feels to lose something pretty or something that she likes. I imagine it'll stop pretty quickly after that...

Good luck!
C. x

Hi A.,

My feeling is that something is seriously wrong here. I think she needs professional help before her daughter is older. Some character problems can be reversed if they are dealt with early. The fact that she does this repeatedly, with no remorse or embarrassment, even when made to give them back, is a red flag to me.

I wish your sister well.


Hi A.....

I know what she's going through. My daughter use to steal when she was young too. One day she took money from me (a $100 bill), took it to school...and told the teacher I gave her "a dollar" for snacks. SHE WAS 5 AT THE TIME!!

What I did may seem extreme to other moms...but it was all I had to go with. I took her down to my local police station when she was about 8....and told them to arrest her. They took my daughter in handcuffs...and put her in a holding cell. Then I pretended to leave. I could hear her crying and begging to come out. The officer even shut the lights out on her. She only stayed in there for 15-20mins. but it was enough to make her think 10 times before stealing (or disobeying) again. I had tried EVERYTHING before and nothing worked. She refused to stop. She's a teen now. Though I'm not dealing with stealing....I AM dealing w/lying and sneaking. My husband has a friend who is a Sheriff. We plan to have him come in over the weekend while she's resting so soundly, and have him take her to a day of bootcamp. We'll see what happens after that.

Don't know if your sister wants to try this....but it helped me at a time when I thought all hope was going to be lost.

Take Care!!

There can be several reasons for a child that age to (Take things,that don't belong to her.I should hope, your sister doesn't refer to her daughter as a thief or stealer. If she punished right away, rather than calmly explaining to her how inapropriate the act is,then she may continue to take things,out of spite. This should have been taken care of (Calmly) I don't know your sister,or if she is a SAHM or works,but alot of times, children will act out like this, when they feel neglected or insecure.They find instant gratification,when they find something pretty,and so she probably is being truthful with her mom, as far as the reason she takes things. Alot of times they will do things like this, when something has changed in their life, like a move, or a new school, New boyfriend or a divorce.Why don't you suggest to your sister,that she sit her daughter down,and (Teach By example)explain how it can hurt your feelings if someone took your favorite doll? or favorite shoes?or favorite necklace that someone dear gave her.Tell her, if she finds something pretty or that she likes,to ask mom if she could get one like it.She needs to know, that asking is the way,not taking,Mom needs to also do some soul searching, and try to figure out, why her daughter is feeling so insecure right now.The best to your sister,and her daughter

Hi A.,

The main reason your niece is stealing is that she is not getting enough of attendion from her mom, and unfortunately bad attention is better then none. It is an unconscious process. As a therapist, I can tell you that you guys need to look beneath the surface of the problem.

Make a reward system, so she can spend some quality, one-one-one time with your sister. As a suggestion, both of them can make a list of activities they could do. Then cut it up and put in a box, and YOUR niece would draw one at a time from the box/hat. That way she can be involved in planning her time with mom. You could also do some research on line to show your sister, that young children steal because they are crying out for attention.

Take care and Good Luck,

A. - your sister needs to get her daughter into counseling, this sounds like a piece of a larger puzzle.


Dear A.,
Have a Police Officer speak with her!!! They will be HAPPY to!
C. S.

Sounds like your niece is just try to get her mommie's attention. It doesn't sound like your sister is a SAHM so maybe they need to spend more time together. Or there must be something else going on..are there problems at home?...with the dad, or a new sibling? Your sister needs to find out what is really bothering her daughter.
Good luck.

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