9 min read

My child is stealing

- It’s very common for children to steal, here’s how to help them learn that it’s not okay.

Illustration of a mum looking upset with their child

Things you can try

  1. Start by understanding why they’re stealing

  2. Show empathy for what made your child steal but be clear about boundaries and what is right and wrong

    You can say: ‘I can see what you really wanted the sweets, but it is wrong to steal’.

  3. Start a discussion with your child by being curious about the reasons behind their behaviour

    You could say: ‘Help me to understand...’ Avoid getting into a confrontation about ‘the truth’.

  4. Show that you believe they have the potential to behave differently

    You could say: ‘I know you have a good heart, and I was surprised to see money going missing. Everyone makes mistakes and I am here to help you make better decisions next time’. Separate the behaviour from the person. It’s important that you don’t think they’re bad.

  5. Set consequences when you’re calm and ones that are logical - we know this is super hard

    For instance, giving back what they have stolen if possible. An older child may have to do extra chores to earn the money they need to pay someone back for what they have stolen. Or support them to own up and make amends. ‘How can we show your friend you are sorry you took her X?’. Or ‘Let’s do something nice for Y to show you are sorry’. It’s important that they’re not allowed to keep what they took or benefit from what they did.

  6. Your child is unique and we hope there are some takeaways here that work for you. If you’re looking for help parenting children with additional needs, you can get specific advice from specialist organisations. Check out our list of support that we can recommend.

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