19 answers

How Do You Punish a Nine Year Old Who Steals?

Hello, i am looking for some helpful ideas on effective ways to punish our nine year old son who stole $40 and then lied about it. After he was confronted with the fact that he told his gramma he had $20. Then we had found out that the $20 was really $40.GRRRRR! However i have no idea on how to punish him in a way that will work and keep this from happening agian..thank you~

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So What Happened?™

First i want to thank all of you who took the time to help me with this.having said that i want to let you know how this is being worked out. Also some have mis taken the money as being taken from"gramma" when it was stolen from daddy and givin to gramma. Our nine year old is the first born out of four who loves being a big brother and has alone time w/ both mommy and daddy. Where he gets to enjoy being a big boy and doing things the smaller children arn't allowed. What we have done is givin him a "time out" from the things he enjoys (but not his books, he can read till his lil eyes fall shut) he will be spending a day at work helping daddy to see what it takes to make money. He is also to write a sorry note to daddy. He is a great kid. He tried to give us his (true)money to show he was sorry. After all said an done i think it is time for him to earn his money for what he wants rather then just being given the money. Where as we were having him save the money he had and we were buying things he wanted..ooops well thats a lesson learned all around. :)

Featured Answers

Apologize to Gramma.
Get a job, learn how much money that is, and how hard it is to earn that much. I remember stealing when I was little, even not so little. It was more of not having any control of money, no access to earn it. Punishment would only distance the kid from the parent/s I think. He is getting to need to talk to you more and more. I see this as a great ooportunity for you to be able to help him problem solve this issue. Can he help with his "punishment"? Maybe this could also help him see how many people this affects. I would want to be able to somehow earn my own money, and be able to spend it my way (also a great time to talk about savings and charities etc) Perhaps paying Gramma back, and also helping some less fortunate kids with money he can earn by doing EXTRA (beyond family/household expectations) chores. Raking neighbors leaves, shoveling snow...good luck.

More Answers

Hi B.,

First of all, I want to stress that the word "punishment" makes children feel like they are "bad" people. As an educator, i have been taught that here are "no bad kids, just bad behavior". It IS important there be a consequence for his behavior. We all have consequences for our behavior, even as adults.

The consequence should fit the crime. In this case, apologizing to his "gramma" and then doing some sort of chore for her to make it up to her would make sense to me. I would make sure that it is something age appropriate and something that will result in him feeling good about his "work". He will then feel better about himself knowing that he can be forgiven for his mistakes and that he was able to make his "gramma" proud of him.

The important lesson is we all make mistakes, it is what we do about them that makes the difference.

Good luck!

1 mom found this helpful

B.,

Well he would not have access to any privileges, TV, unplug cable, phone, video games, I would not let him have or do what he treasures. Even if he is in a sport that he loves, that week of sports or any extra activity he enjoys will come to a halt. I would make sure it was the most boring week he had ever encountered! He might not enjoy this but I would add an earlier bed time, and some extra chores for that week. Nine year olds hate being board. If he does it again......I would sell a game system and he would not get it back along with all of the above. I know this is not fair to the other children, we have lived without all this stuff, so can they. I am just assuming he has all these things because mine do. Good luck!

Then after all the punishments, give him chores he can get paid for. And find something he does well and praise him. Start making a big deal out of his accomplishments. Tell what a great kid he is, tell him how much you love him, give hugs out regularly (not around his buddies of course, lol) Boys are small men.......needs load of attention!

You sound like a great mom! good luck!

Daisie

1 mom found this helpful

Hi B.,
As a child psychologist, I have seen this frequently in families with two or more children who are relatively close in age, are in families that have an older child (over five) and a new infant. You've gotten some great advice and you seem to have an excellent grasp on effective parenting. One thing you should consider is that typically children do this to substitute for attention. It satisfies a innate psychological desire to control their surroundings, which directly correlates to how much time Mommy and Daddy spend with them now and how much they want them too. With limited resources and parents working long hours, this becomes very difficult. If you would like to thwart this behavior from coming back, I suggest that you schedule a time that you will spend with your son, every week, just for him. Daddy should do the same thing. Just one or two hours every week, scheduled in advance so the child can look forward to it, of alone time with Dad reduces negative behaviors in male children enormously. In addition, here is a great article about this topic: http://www.aacap.org/cs/root/facts_for_families/children_...
Good Luck! Sounds like you have it under control!

1 mom found this helpful

Apologize to Gramma.
Get a job, learn how much money that is, and how hard it is to earn that much. I remember stealing when I was little, even not so little. It was more of not having any control of money, no access to earn it. Punishment would only distance the kid from the parent/s I think. He is getting to need to talk to you more and more. I see this as a great ooportunity for you to be able to help him problem solve this issue. Can he help with his "punishment"? Maybe this could also help him see how many people this affects. I would want to be able to somehow earn my own money, and be able to spend it my way (also a great time to talk about savings and charities etc) Perhaps paying Gramma back, and also helping some less fortunate kids with money he can earn by doing EXTRA (beyond family/household expectations) chores. Raking neighbors leaves, shoveling snow...good luck.

Make him do volunteer work until you deem that the $40 has been repaid

Hi B.,

I teach CCD to a group of fourth-graders, and we were just talking about this as we studied the Ten Commandments. One of the scenarios we discussed was a child deliberately throwing a ball into and breaking a neighbor's window. It's along the same lines as lying and stealing, as it robs someone of their property by damaging it.

I asked the kids what appropriate restitution might be. They said to apologize, and to pay to replace the broken window. I asked if it would also be appropriate to have the child do some extra work for the person whose window they broke, and they all agreed that it would be.

So, don't be afraid to make your son own up to what he's done, apologize and set things right, but also go that one step further to make amends. As others have said, have a heart-to-heart and see what he was thinking. He may or may not know, he might have just been tempted without thinking it through. It's good that he got caught though, use this as a learning opportunity. Good luck!

Dear B., Stealing is a problem no doubt but in my experience it is more of a symptom than the actual problem. Children who steal often feel as if they do not have enough, that their needs are not being met. You did not mention the birth order of this particular child, i.e. first, second... This can mean emotional needs as well as physical.I have found that rather than punishing the child it is better to speak with the child. But often a child further down the birth order can fell left out or overlooked. Ask yourself if any of this could ring true for your family. As far as the actual act of taking something that does not belong to the child I would suggest the following: Tell the child that they do not need to steal to get what they need, that he/she can ask you and you will take care of his need because that is your job. If the child wants something that you decide is not a need but rather a want, help your child make this distinction and give them avenues through which they can go to acquire what it is they want. Perhaps it is something you think they should not have yet because they are too young, then you can tell them at what age it will be permissible for them to have the thing and that you will help them with it when the time comes. Good luck and remember to approach the situation with an open heart and open mind, that your child is communicating with you by stealing and it is your job to figure out what he is calling out for. L.

Punishments dont work, especially with kids that old. So things like taking away TV, "grounding" him (a terribly outdated concept), etc... will simply cause him to rebel further.
Explain to him that stealing is wrong, yes, but dont treat him like a naughty child. Ask him why he stole the money, and wait until he gives a genuine answer. Make sure he understands that what hes done hurt his grandmother. I think hes old enough that he may understand if you explain that adults need money for things like food and bills, and if they dont have the money they need, they will be very inconvenienced. Impress upon him that he wouldnt like if someone stole his money or possessions, so he shouldnt do that to others, especially people he cares about.
These concepts of compassion and understanding are best taught all along, since toddlerhood. I dont know if you've done that, and if you haven't, what i've suggested may not work if its so foreign to your son. But theres no hurt in starting now.

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