Your child does homework on time, helps you clear the table after dinner, and even helps with housework on the weekends. So can it be true that this same child is stealing?

Before you react, it helps to know a little about why kids steal and where to get help.

Why Kids and Teens Steal

Kids of all ages — from preschoolers to teens — can be tempted to steal for different reasons:

  • Very young children sometimes take things they want without understanding that things cost money and that it’s wrong to take something without paying for it.
  • School-age kids usually know they’re not supposed to take something without paying, but they might do so anyway because they lack enough self-control.
  • Preteens and teens know they’re not supposed to steal, but might steal for the thrill of it or because their friends do. Some might believe they can get away with it. As they’re given more control over their lives, some teens steal as a way of rebelling.

And other complex reasons can be factors. Kids might be angry or want attention. Their behavior may reflect stress at home, school, or with friends. Some may steal as a cry for help because of emotional or physical abuse they’re enduring.

In other cases, kids and teens steal because they can’t afford to pay for what they need or want — for example, they may steal to get popular name-brand items. In some cases, they may take things to support drug habits.

Whatever the reason for stealing, parents need to find out the root of the behavior and address other underlying problems, like drug abuse, that may surface.

Ron Reacts: This is one of those “tough” parenting issues that go above the regular family issues. What have you done to deal with a child who steals? Tell us your story by clicking post reply…

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