A child stealing material things is an underlying need for love and attention. Here are gentle ways in which you can help your child evolve from this negative behavioral tendency.
Identify the reason/cause: Identify the cause or reason because of which your child is stealing from you. It’s often an attention seeking behavior and an underlying need for love which is unfulfilled. So they start substituting money for love and end up giving more importance to material possessions that can be bought. It could perhaps be that they are not getting their rightful recognition in family, latent anger at a parent or sibling who is being pampered more than them. Children often steal because of peer pressure or ragging/bullying they face in school or social situations so comply to be part of a group. Stealing could also be because of a lack of self-control, the thrill of rebelling against set social norms of behavior. Maybe they can’t identify between right/wrong and preschoolers often do it out of curiosity rather than a habit. An older child or teen however, needs immediate attention and needs to be gently explained about right/wrong behavior in any given situation concerning what’s “mine” and “other persons”.
Introspect on Parenting Style: Children notice parent’s behavior and follow the example in front of them. So as a parent or influential figure in the child’s life, introspect if you avoid paying for things even though you can afford them. Do you hoard “freebies” from hotels or any other public place out of a sense of false entitlement? Do you avoid tipping because you’ve paid service tax? Identify and re-evaluate what’s your relationship with money to set a more acceptable example in front of your child. Also check if you’re a miser and give your child less pocket-money that keeps him away from enjoying his school/college life. Are you strict/angry/in-attentive when it comes to pampering your child? And if you’re someone who loathes the rich or have negative feelings about money or those who are affluent – you’re creating a prejudice on your child’s mind. So instead develop an attitude of gratitude and abundance as gaining that affluent stature involves optimism and a lot of relentless work.
Ways to transform: The best way to transform this situation is to talk/communicate without judging and give your child a chance. Clear the air about right/wrong and also about ownership – things that are theirs and those that belong to someone else or things that are commonly owned by everyone in the family. Also explain to them about ‘entitlement’ what they are naturally entitled to as citizens and what they have to pay for in every social/professional setting. As a simple exercise, send them to a shop to buy something and check if they give you back the exact change. Teach them about savings and individual pocket money and buy them a piggy bank to help them build their own. Avoid labels of “bad child” “troublemaker” and instead reward good behavior with love and praise. Avoid being too dramatic and ensure you keep this conversation private. Don’t be ashamed as it kills child’s morale and instead be patient and appreciative of how good he is otherwise.
Which are some of the ways in which you can help your child give up stealing? Share your views with us and get featured on the blog.