12 answers

My 10 Year Old Is Taking Things That Do Not Belong to Her

My 10 year old girl has a wicked sense of humor, has many friends and is very sociable. However, lately she has been taking things that do not belong to her. It started with belongings from people in our home. She would take little things of ours and hide them in her room, but now I am finding things that belong to other children. When I ask her about it she acts like she does not know how the items got in her possession. I am greatly concerned but do not know how to proceed. I am afraid if I make inquiries at day care or school, she may be labeled a thief and have that stigma follow her forever. Any advice?

3 moms found this helpful

What can I do next?

So What Happened?™

Thank you all for sharing your experiences and advise. I had a long talk with my daughter about personal responsibility for her actions. We returned the pilfered items together and she apologized to each person. I also drafted an agreement which she had to read and sign, stating that for each future offense, she will forfeit all birthday party invites for a 3 month period. As she has many friends at home and school, I felt this would be a strong motivator for her. As she still could not verbally give me a reason for her actions, I have also given her 3 days to write me a letter, explaining why she felt the need to take items from friends and family that she knew did not belong to her.

This was a serious issue that could have been handled so many ways. With the help of Mamasource, I am comfortable with my course of action. Thank you all again!

Featured Answers

Okay, first of all, if she is taking the things and not owning up to it, you need to make her take responsibility for it. If there aren't any consequences, she won't see a reason to stop.

My cousin did this when he was small. He would take match box cars and other small toys. What set him straight (he's now in his early twenties) was his Dad making him take each and every toy back to its rightful owner and apologize. Afterwards he was grounded for about 2 weeks as well.

At this age, I don't think it would be a stigma that follows her for the rest of her life. A few weeks of embarrassment over the situation on her part could be the deterrent that keeps her from shoplifting later and the possible consequences that can go with it. Also, it won't be very long before one of her friends or classmates does something that causes the attention to shift to them.

I wish you luck with the situation.

1 mom found this helpful

More Answers

I dealt with this last year with one of my children. You have to take both approaches to it. First, she has to understand that no matter the REASON, it is still wrong and illegal for her to do this. Continuing this behaviour will result in x, y, and z...I'm sure you can fill in those blanks with what you feel will make the difference with her. "Kids won't play with you/your friends won't trust you", etc worked for us. THEN you need to find out why she is doing this, keeping in mind she may not understand the behaviour herself. But there is a reason. Our son was jealous, so we worked on helping him overcome that, helping him understand some things about how emotions shouldn't dictate your behaviour, etc... And the last thing he did was not only return the items (which were his brother's) but write everyone in the family an apology. I felt it was important for him to understand the gravity of this repeated offense, and I knew writing out apologies would curb any future attempts. It did. He's stopped, and this was a fter years of it. He was the kid in the house that would pilfer my jewelery and hide it in his dresser at age 3, kwim?

I hope that was helpful.

2 moms found this helpful

hi it's not so much THAT she is stealing..or WHAT but WHY? you need to have a comfortable, NON judgemental conversation with her. Maybe talk a walk together while you talk. say the obvious that it is NOT right..talk about "values"..but you really want to get to the WHT (for attention) b/c she doesn't feel "ownership of something? doesn't feel she is able to make decisions for herself (age appropriate of course!) hope this is helpful. M.

2 moms found this helpful

some children start off doing it as a game but it could get serious , this has to stop now. she really needs to know that this is not a game and she can be labled as a thief and kids can be mean at times and start treating her bad in school too . so i think really talking to her is needed and if it continue she would need to be punished meaning taking things from her that she loves for a while so she knows you mean business. good luck.

2 moms found this helpful

I agree with all of the responses. I have something to add, however. When traumatic things happen to children--like the death of a grandparent--this sometimes triggers stealing. It is as if the child is trying to get the sense of being able to hold on to something, anything to have some semblance of controlling their world. As well as having your child take responsibility, it would be good to check to see what prompted the stealing and dealing with it at the source.

2 moms found this helpful

my four year old stole something from a store. i made her go back and pay for it. she was embarrassed. a week later she took something from her baby-sitter's bag. i gently but firmly made her confess. she was so ashamed that she hasn't done it again. it's been about a year.

i think kids have to learn that if they make an error in judgment, they need to make amends. for stealing, they should fess up. feeling the consequences of shame will help them to learn how to treat people better. this is a normal test. if you are firm but forgiving, she will learn.

2 moms found this helpful

K., I'm sorry I'm just answering now but you did the right thing. I stole a stupid little piece of candy when I was a kid back in late 60's or early 70's but it was about the size of a birthcontrol pill and my mom made me go back in and apologize and made me pay a dime and I was like in awe because a dime back then could have bought me like 20 to 40 pieces of candy depending on what kind you got. I never did it again. Seeing my mom taking action and over paying for my crime stuck with me.
ps, you did the right thing having her apologize to everyone and having her write the letter. Her seeing how important this is to you will have wanting to meet your expectations. You just showed her how important her good citenship is to you.

1 mom found this helpful

When my son was the same age he wanted me to buy him some super glue to fix something and when I said no he just took it. We founf=d out as soon as we got home. We talked about it being wrong then went back to the store where he had to have the manager paged so he could confess and return the item. I also made him pay for it even though he wasn't going to get to keep it. The manager said that wasn't necessary but I told him we were teaching him a lesson. He never did it again.

1 mom found this helpful

You absolutely have to let her school know. That way, they are not surprised when another child comes up and says "_______ stole my eraser." Her teachers need to be able to watch her when she is doing something that looks suspicious. I know you don't want her to be labeled as a thief, but having more than one set of eyes on her will help you. She will probably be caught and maybe the school can offer you some counseling help with her. There are two students who are known to steal from other students and teachers in the school I work at. The school has gone so far as to bring in a police officer to talk to them about where stealing will lead them. I hope that you will talk to her teachers, it will be one of the best things you can do for her.

1 mom found this helpful

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