If you suspect that your child has stolen something (or if they are caught red handed), you should rehash why stealing is wrong and help them see it from the other person’s perspective. “How would you feel if David stole your coloring book?” Go light on the talk of police involvement or breaking the law. These scare tactics can stop your child from being honest about their misbehaviors and can cause them to fear police officers rather than viewing them as helpers in an emergency situation.

Instead, you should right the wrong. Help your child apologize and return the item to its rightful owner. If it is not returnable (as in the case of my niece, who was already munching on the cookie), pay for it and make your child do an extra set of chores to pay you back. If you have already left the store or find an item at home, take it back (if possible) and follow through with consequences that fit the crime. For example, if your kid steals a toy, they might have to donate one of their own to an organization that helps needy children. Repeated thievery or other troubling behavior may require help from a therapist. Fortunately, most kids who take something once or twice and face real life consequences (having to apologize, angering a friend, disappointing parents) do not steal again. Leave us your comments. Your feedback is greatly appreciated. Let us know what other topics you would like to have discussed. Share this post with your family and friends. Remember to always praise your child.

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