I have a terribly difficult time getting my son to behave. Like for reals behave, not like just “oh he backtalks.” No, I’m talking “I’ve been cursed and had things thrown at me and I’ve been bruised to heck and back.” It was all kind of coming together, though, I was feeling some relief that maybe he was maturing, until he stole $500 from my bank account by using my husband’s debit card one night. And he spent it all on game downloads. Non-refundable game downloads. So, I’m running through my 5 Fun Ways to Cope when Kids Steal. By the way, don’t let the kids know you’re doing any of this–it’ll just make them spitting mad.
5 Fun Ways to Cope when Kids Steal
- Remove All Temptations. This is kind of a no-brainer for me. Anytime my kid steals, the screws get tighter in our house. Not necessarily on him, but on those around him that have to adjust their behavior to keep him from being tempted into stealing. Because, duh, it’s totally my fault he steals, so I have to keep temptations away from him. In his words.
- The “I’m Sorry”. You know there are things that kid wants. She’ll want a trip to the mall with her friends or cash for the movies. In our case it was contacts. I let it ride, let the belief that he might get them run until we got to the optometrist’s office. Then I had her tell me how much they’d cost–and then I turned to him (while speaking to her) and said, “I’m sorry, we had the money to afford contacts, but something happened over the last weekend and now we don’t have the cash.” My son paled. Something clicked.
- Take Something of Theirs. I think this is probably also a no-brainer for most parents, but maybe not. If your kid steals, take something of theirs. And when they ask where it went, shrug. You can throw it away (because I actually do that) or you can just keep it for a while and then it can magically re-appear. But if they think someone stole something of theirs…whooo.
- Tell Everyone. There is such a thing as embarrassment as a motivator. I’m not talking about telling like the media or anything, but totally telling their teachers, the other parent, grandparents–anyone who you can legitimately say “they needed to know”. But do it in front of the kid. That way they know that you know that the other person knows…and the teen is thusly embarrassed beyond all get out.
- Work Off the Debt. This really should be the norm for any time a kid steals. But, in our case, that is an impossibility. But maybe it’ll work for you. They need to do chores. Icky ones like cleaning the bathroom and the gutters (ok, maybe the gutters is too much for a 10 year old, but a 16 year old? yep.). They need a monetary value attached to each chore and to literally “earn” the money they took.
I hope this helps you. I really did see results. Primarily from #1, 2 and 4, but I think, for other kids, 3 and 5 will totally help. Then again, I’ve tried 3 and 5 in the past. Maybe you should just jump to 1, 2 and 4…hmmm…