17 August 2007

Why some kids steal

More money has gone missing from your wallet. The chief suspect, your kid, claims to be innocent.

More money has gone missing from your wallet. The chief suspect, your kid, claims to be innocent. What now?

A mother writes in to ask for help as her ten-year-old is stealing; a stepmom feels helpless and angry after finding that her stepdaughter has been stealing DVDs and other items.

When is it ‘stealing’?

Dr Spungin of writes:

“First of all, pre-school children can't be accused of stealing as they don't understand property rights and ownership. Pre-school children who take things very seldom conceal them, which is what usually accompanies stealing as we understand it; the culprit knows they have done wrong and tries to conceal the evidence,” writes Dr Spungin on the site

“By the age of seven you'd expect a child to understand the concept of ownership, and at this age, children are fully aware of what it means to steal,” he adds.

Why do they do it?

He mentions a variety of reasons why children steal:
  • Sometimes they steal items in order to give them away and gain popularity in their group
  • Children can also steal because there's something they really want and they can't see any other way of getting it
  • Then there are children who steal out of sense of bravado – shoplifting often falls into that category
  • Some children steal because they feel that love and attention are missing in their lives
  • Sometimes strained or tense relationships that may stem from divorce, death or remarriage is the underlying reason for stealing. This type of behaviour is not unusual when children are in stressful situations such as a breakdown of the family.

Does confrontation help?

On the topic of confronting the child in order to bring about a change of behaviour, he made the following points:
  • Even when a child has been confronted and it appears that everyone knows, the stealing will sometimes persist.
  • The reason for this may be that there is underlying emotional turmoil and distress
  • There can also be resistance from family members to seeing obviously wrong behaviour as some kind of cry for help.
  • If the behaviour persists then this can become a matter for professional help, rather than repetitive forms of punishment that do not yield any change.

Source Article by: Dr Spungin

Read more:
Finding a child psychologist
Raising a well adjusted child



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