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Help for a Child Who Steals

Question:

My 7-year-old is stealing money from relatives, stores and school. We cannot get her to stop. How can I get her behavior under control?

Answer:

Sometimes when we are stumped by a particular behavior, it is helpful to try to figure out why the child is doing it. She may be stealing because she wants things and can't have them, or because she thinks she is smarter than her victims. Or, she might like the attention she gets when her actions are discovered.

After finding out why she’s stealing, identify what she steals, when she steals and who she steals from. Every behavior has a function; your daughter is gaining some satisfaction from stealing. Think of what she could do to get that satisfaction without hurting others by stealing from them.

Teach her about the value of honesty, respecting others and asking permission to use things that belong to others. These are all social skills that will be good for her to learn. Monitor her closely at all times and give her negative consequences when you catch her stealing or lying. Give her positive consequences when she listens to you.

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