How do you stop a child stealing?

For the past few months it has become very apparent that my elven year old brother-in-law has been stealing...usual story it starts with small amounts of money, gets bigger, is always sorry, doesn't know why he does it etc....Always gets what he wants and does not want for anything. So no real reason.

His mother, my wife (his sister) and me have had several talks, tried the disappointed line, banning him from doing things, removed toys, computers etc..but he toes the line for a few weeks and then it starts again. He's even had the tour of the local nick.

Any ideas team.




  • Time?
    It's a bugger, isn't it. Sometimes they just don't fit the textbook.

    Don't stop with all the stuff you've tried - keep applying it for consistency's sake. Eventually, we can only hope, it will either mean something to him - or he'll just get bored with it all and stop.

    Good luck.
  • Without implying anything here but....could it be this is an underlying symptom of something else?  Is he doing it for attention?  Is it an outlet for stress/anxiety? Is he being bullied and being made to do it? Is he being bullied for the money?

    Just a thought starter, nothing else.......

  • Beat him very severely then do it again  image
  • I'm with Schmunks on this. Not had an issue with either of my kids, but I think it's a sign of insecurity and him wanting attention. Any attention as far as he's concerned. I think you need to make him feel like he's more important, more 'part of the family' and part of your future. Plus you have to be absolutely consistent about how both of you treat him and reward him. He needs to feel valued and given responsibility. What makes him tick? If he's denied that, or encouraged, will it make a difference?
    Good luck! Parenting is so f-in hard and no one gives you a manual how to do it because there are so many variables!
  • with JJ.just try keep on with consistency........

    a lot of kids go through the stage,..............but as we all know some come out of the stage and some just get worse...........horrible situtaion to handle.....

    yes check for underlying things..........

    my eldest has gone/ going through it but it has always been minor.....packets of crisps , biscuits etc............and maybe the odd pound................

    its horrible to think you can't leave money or your purse anywhere around in your own home

    Good luck.........

  • + 1 for what the others have said (particularly about it being a symptom of some other problem he can't articulate), bar JohhnyBike's suggestion, but to add another thought:

    if he "toes the line" for a few weeks, then it escalates, could you make some sort of "arrangement" to talk to him each week, to see how he's getting on.  Whether you make it on a formal or informal basis, perhaps if he knows that someone is keeping that close an eye on him (not, I'm sure that you aren't in other ways), maybe it would be enough to break the cycle.

    It sounds as if there's more to it, so perhaps this too would be a way of getting to the bottom of it.

    But as seren said, perseverance will really help.

    Good luck and image for taking it on.

  • I'm only just a parent so my advice may be complete b*ll*cks but here goes anyway...... you say that he gets what he wants and does not want for anything.  Does that means he's spoilt?  Maybe this is his rebellion against over-indulgent parents?  Kids need to learn that stuff doesn't just arrive when you ask.  Sometimes it has to be worked for.  If he is spoilt then maybe a little more tough love is required.
  • I think most of my schoolmates nicked something from somewhere at some point in their young lives. It's something a lot of kids do. Not sure where that gets you, but I'm not sure he's a budding burglar yet.
  • It definitely comes across as an attention thing. Apart from your wife, does he have any other siblings, particulary of a similar age?

  • JohnnyBike wrote (see)
    Beat him very severely then do it again  image

    Most of my childhood friends have done jail time, (for dealing illigal substances and violence towards people who owed them money)
    I was simply a vile child, teenager, young man (but I never stole) although I was shown much love, and made to feel special by my family.
    I never had disapline, I never ever knew where that line was and how crossing it would effect me personally.

    My parents used to talk to me, tell me they were disapointed, even had a tour of the local nick when I first started getting in trouble, I believe this was supposed to scare me. The fact remains none of this effect me personally.
    I honestly believe if I was given a much needed slap as a consequence of my actions when I started going off the rails I would have become a far better and nicer person earlier in my life.

    It was only getting consequence in my life which changed things, I met my OH who made it clear my lifestyle and the things I was doing made a relationship not viable.. I had a choice to make and made the correct one.

    Some Kids can be told that a fire is hot and not to touch it, other Kids need to get burnt to understand that touching it is a bad thing to do.. The question you have to decide is do you burn them if they do not listen or keep telling them the same thing until they set themselves on fire. As JohnnyBike wrote I was the kind of kid who needed to be beaten perhaps others do also.
  • On the other hand, I think the lesson kids learn from being hit is that it's ok for bigger people to hit smaller ones, which I don't see as a good lesson, personally.
  • You can set boundaries, use discipline without resorting to hitting / beating / smacking someone.  I've never used physical punishment with my two, have never needed to nor do I understand it as a concept.

  • Quite. I've FELT like hitting them, mind...
  • Peter Collins wrote (see)
    Quite. I've FELT like hitting them, mind...

    Who hasn't?!  image  IMHO, though, hitting etc is more about the parent losing control than the parent wishing or attempting to discipline the child.

  • I wholeheartedly agree.
  • Is he just stealing from family or third parties?  If you've done the local nick tour I take it you've also explained he's no longer a child and can be arrested- etc. 
  • what's all this namby pamby political correctness about disciplining children, setting boundaries etc?

     just beat them senseless. that's what happened in my day.

     never did us any harm.

  • Yet another insightful response from Skotty there.  Or possibly an attempt at inciteful.... 

    Doesn't matter how many possesions some kids have,if they crave attention they'll find a way to garner it.  He may well get plenty of attention, love and support already but he's 11 which means he has a chip on his shoulder by default.  He steals, you react, he gets his reaction, everything calms down again, he craves that attnetion - good or bad.  Unfortunately there's no easy answer as every kid is different. 

    Maybe you could consider talking to him and making a deal whereby he forfeits something substantial but also has to do something for a volunteer led group for a month - working in a charity shop or old folks home visiting for instance.  At 11 this will be his idea of hell but may also teach him the virtues of compassion rather than the punishments due him through expected bad behaviour of the future.

  • Sorry if this is a can of worms but does he have a Dad?
  • Hog-mouseHog-mouse ✭✭✭
    Jeepers wrote (see)
    Peter Collins wrote (see)
    Quite. I've FELT like hitting them, mind...

    Who hasn't?!  image  IMHO, though, hitting etc is more about the parent losing control than the parent wishing or attempting to discipline the child.


    skotty wrote (see)

    what's all this namby pamby political correctness about disciplining children, setting boundaries etc?

     just beat them senseless. that's what happened in my day.

     never did us any harm.


    I was hit quite a bit as a kid - ran away from home until my mother promised not to hit me again.

    Anyway - stealing, yes a lot of children go through this, sometimes there is an underlying reason, bullying, insecurity etc. Other times it's just growing up and working out right from wrong which isn't something that happens overnight.

    I agree with whoever it was that said talk to him about how he is coping with the not stealing. I've worked with problem children and its normal to have daily and weekly meetings to find out how kids are coping. You can often find out so much more - lets face it you are giving them a safe space to talk. even ask him to tell you if he has taken anything. get him to take responsibilty for his behaviour.

  • Gyraffe wrote (see)
    Sorry if this is a can of worms but does he have a Dad?

    Yep, can of worms, Gyraffe.  I'm on my own with two (now teenage) boys - my ex walked out on us when they were 6 and 9.  I've managed to navigate them through the intervening years without problems - they do see their father, but only every 2 / 3 weeks and he is far from an influential character in their lives.

    Re the talking bit that you mentioned, bm, that would be me - again.  That's how I'm bringing up my two - respect and consideration - both ways.

  • Stealing is wrong.

    Give him a clip around the earhole.

  • Send him to be his bedroom for an hour but if he admits to it straight away cut it down to 30 minutes-yours Ken
  • skotty wrote (see)

    what's all this namby pamby political correctness about disciplining children, setting boundaries etc?

     just beat them senseless. that's what happened in my day.

     never did us any harm.

    Quite.  Being "beaten senseless" by your parent doesn't scar you for life and destroy any and all trust you potentially had for your fellow human being.  Nor does it destroy your ability to cope with relationships you may form as an adult.  I'm quite sure Skotty we all found it absolutely hilarious at the time, its just the being beaten senseless bit has made us forget the joy of a broken nose and being told at 10 years old that you're a piece of shit who destroyed the life of your parent.

    Gyraffe wrote (see)
    Sorry if this is a can of worms but does he have a Dad?

    Because, clearly, being without a father must turn a child in to a thief.  Any other dark aged stereotypes you'd like to attach to my and the millions of other children of this country who live in one parent families? 

    I'm off to send my kids out to mug a few grannies, turn over the local Spar and joyride in a nicked BMW.
  • popsiderpopsider ✭✭✭
    Skotty was only joking - a parody of a certain viewpoint - pretty much what you just did yourself.  
  • Cheers for the replies folks, some good (and some not so good) advice there.

    Gyraffe - No, walked away years ago.

  • Funnily enough, had to deal with a 13 yr old who had been compulsively stealing at school today. Uncovered a whole host of underlying bullying,self esteem issues. I would definitely keep being consistent with punishments but try to find the underlying causes/issues.

    As for the idea that you have to beat children to discipline them... what rubbish. I work in inner city london schools and not only can I get them to do what I want without violence, I also see the impacts and damage done to children in the name of discipline at home.
  • It could be out of boredom, stealing to get a thrill and the adrenaline rush. He might need some stimulation an exciting hobby perhaps, climbing, parkour, diving etc.

    Could be due to peer pressure to be in with the "cool kids", then he need a talking to of what is really cool like saying no, maybe a bit of self esteem there as well.

    As some above says it could be that he wants to be seen, to be noticed and loved (not saying you don't love him just that it might not be obvious to a kid). Spend more time with him, involve him in what you are doing more.

    Might be none of them or could be a combination of all of them.

    Maybe get him to due some regular volunteering with people really having it bad, homeless, victims of burglary etc to open his eyes a bit.

    Also I don't completely agree with the "Always gets what he wants and does not want for anything." this could be part of the problem. Not knowing the value of things as he never had to fight for or save money to get things. Make him do chores for things, save up money if he wants a lot of things and maybe give him a carrot like a goal to look forward to if he behaves and doesn't steal.

    Whatever you choose to do I hope it goes well for you.

  • That boy is me! Apart from my dad was there but not with me. Never took me anywhere, never played footy with me. Mums usual response was "Oh go and play will you, your getting under my feet"
    So the stealing, doing wrong started. Parents answer was the belt, when I suppose all I needed was a father figure and a proper childhood. No I didn't get anything I asked for/wanted as not a lot was earned in the pits. I was 13 before I got my 1st bike. I always remember getting a board game called Risk, about money/business management or something. I was 12 and it was for 3 to 6 players I think Hmm.
    All I,m saying is maybe he needs someone to be a friend/shoulder/father figure to take him to see/do what he is interested in.
  • Some sound points in there Nicko....Especially the first paragraph, believe it or nopt i bought him a bike for christmas and he can't ride and refuses to let me help him. I have taken a step back from the situation and will try to approach him to see if he will talk, from a friend point of view.

     Zaba...well aware that the "gets what he wants" is part of the problem but he is not my child and i'm trying to guide my MIL without ending up telling her what to do.

Sign In or Register to comment.