My child is stealing: Now what?
What should you do if your child is caught stealing? Unfortunately, this is a question that most parents have to ask themselves at some point. Even when you teach your children that stealing is wrong from an exceptionally early age, many children will eventually try to get away with stealing something relatively small as a means of expanding their horizons and attempting to assert their own independence over everyone else, especially their parents. With that being said, there are certain things that you can do to help mitigate the situation or even to prevent your child from stealing anything else in the future.
If you find that your child has stolen something, the first thing you have to do is confront them. Do your best not to act out in anger but it is important that you be firm about the situation and that you make it clear that this is not an acceptable form of behavior and it won’t be tolerated again. In most situations, actions speak louder than words and this is certainly no exception. The truth of the matter is that merely sitting down and talking to your child is probably not going to be enough to do the trick. What you really need to do is make your child correct the situation themselves.
For example, you can force them to return the object they stole and own up to what they did. It is always a good idea to make them work off the cost of whatever they stole in addition to these actions. The idea is to get them to understand that this is not acceptable behavior and that they are going to have to remedy the situation by making things right. This is typically best achieved by doing something that they will not soon forget, such as making them work it off after school and on weekends instead of hanging out with their friends. The truth is, you can’t force your child not to steal but if you make the entire experience unpleasant for them, they are far less likely to do it again.