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I'm almost 100% sure that one of my kids has stolen money from their dad's wallet. How do i handle this?


Debra Brooks Replied: When talking to your child about stealing, "almost 100% sure", is not good enough. You need to keep you head about you. If you act too hastily you could do more harm than good. If you are not sure about it, do not confront your child with it. If you ask the child in anger and the child lies to you to stay out of trouble you are not "fixing" the problem, you are teaching the child to now lie about it. Know that your child is not doing this to harm you or their dad. Remember to model integrity in your home. Talk about honesty. Talk generally about taking what does not belong to us. If you are ever 100% sure, then express to your child how wrong it is to take things from others. Give them an example of someone taking something from them (it is more effective if you use something they hold dear). If they are old enough make them pay it back through allowance or doing extra chores. Treat this like any other wrong doing and apply the appropriate consequence. Most of all….. stay calm.
Posted On 2010-12-08 08:13:17
Janet Price Replied: It is always concerning when we discover that our child has done something that is socially unacceptable and disrespectful to those that we love. But stealing is a transgression that parents often find to be particularly concerning. I have a few questions that would help determine more specifically what next steps might make the most sense- how old is your child? And, is this a first- time behavior or a more chronic problem? For a younger child (under 7) this is an opportunity to teach, and reinforce, about not touching or taking anything that belongs to someone else without first getting permission. Finding out why they took the money will be quite illuminating and help guide the response. For example, establish an acceptable means for earning his/her own money, if the issue is wanting to purchase something. For the older child (8 and up) this concept of ownership should be understood, which indicates that other reasons for stealing need to be explored. Is the child angry with his/her father for some reason? Is she/he struggling socially at school, being bullied, or wanting to buy something that may seem frivolous to you but is what signals "coolness" in his/ her social group? With either age group, a consequence is important, to teach that taking from others is wrong and results in negative consequences. That should include paying the money back, either from their allowances, or doing chores to earn the money. Therapy for you both can also be helpful to have some guidance about how to handle this, both in the present and more long-term, if needed. Again, if this is a chronic issue, consider therapy for your child, and possibly also for your family together. I wish you the best with responding to this delicate situation. Though difficult in the moment, it can have a positive ending as your child builds his/her understanding of what it means to treat one another's property respectfully.
Posted On 2010-11-23 20:57:04
Peter Hanfileti, MD Replied: First of all, be thankful that you have the opportunity to address this issue within the context of your own family and not out in public at the store, school or a family friend's home. Taking what is not theirs is something all kids will do to one degree or another. The question is: when will they learn that taking money or anything from another simply will not work and is not a viable strategy to get what they want? The fact that this has happened does not mean your child is "bad", it just means they have not learned this valuable lesson yet. Second, depending on the age of your child, I would communicate what it means to steal and the consequences. As parents, there is no one else better equipped and positioned than you to teach your kids right from wrong. Certainly use your own experience while growing up or someone you know about to emphasize the pitfalls of stealing and the broader, long term consequences of doing so. Third, it may be helpful to point out what it means to work for and earn money and how it is used to keep your family going. If kids recognize the value of time, a job and money and what it enables your family to enjoy: food, clothing, a home, car, pets, etc., this will register in their memory banks the next time they feel tempted to take anything, including money from a wallet. Finally, I would ask the child why they took the money and perhaps if they are old enough, discuss the possibility of an allowance tied to some sort of work around the house or other chores as this will reinforce the value of working and the concept of equal exchange as opposed to taking without giving. Hope this helps!
Posted On 2010-11-18 11:12:23
Dr. Vicki Panaccione Replied: If you truly believe this to be so, then please do not confront your child or corner her into a possible lie. Talk to her with a statement of fact---and voice your concern about her feeling that it was necessary to steal rather than ask for what she needed. This is not a time to grill her with ‘why's', lecture or over-react. Instead, let her know that you love her and that your number one priority is to take care of her and her needs. Here's a possible scenario: "Susie, there is money missing from dad's wallet, and I am concerned that you didn't feel that you could come and ask us for what you needed. What I know is that when kids take things without permission, there tends to be a sense of guilt or knowing that what the money is used for isn't really right. So, it concerns me that you might be involved in something causing you to feel as though you have to be sneaky and hide things from us; and I really encourage you to let us know what's going on. We're concerned about stealing, but even more that there's something going on with you that would cause you to steal. We're here for you and our #1 priority is to help you make good decisions and do what you know is right."
Posted On 2010-11-17 21:11:14
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