Guest Author - Chinedum Ify Obikili
While stealing is common among children, it should not be condoned. Stealing of any kind is bad behavior and would become a habit and eventually an addiction if left unchecked. If your child or a family member steals, here are simple ways you can help them stop:
1.Give this habit the serious attention it deserves: A child who takes things from others without asking for permission first should not be ignored, not even when they are stuff from his siblings. You should be concerned if your kid or a family member does this. Understandably, siblings play pranks on each other. However, parents should teach their kids to respect each otherís personal boundaries; this will help the everyone know where to draw the line.
2.Firmly reprimand him or her: It doesnít matter how old h/she is, you need to firmly scold this behavior. If you treat issues as stealing casually, and let things slide, this behavior would quickly become a habit and your child will eventually take this bad habit outside and begin to steal from his friends and classmates. A friend of mine who is a teacher told me of an incident that happened at the school she taught. A child was caught stealing another childís food. Some of the kids confirmed that it was not the first time he had done that. Each time the other kids went out for school assembly, this particular child remained behind to steal from different lunch boxes. How embarrassing could that be! It was quite surprising to also learn that this child who stole from others actually came from a wealthy home and also came to school with his lunch box. Now, why would a child who has his own lunch box steal from his classmates? The reason is simple; his bad behavior has become a habit.
3.Find out why he/she stole in the first place: Children steal for different reasons. You will be able to help your child best if you knew why he stole in the first place. If he stole because he liked what he saw and didnít think it was a big deal to help himself to it. Gently but firmly make him understand that he has no right to take what is not his no matter how much he liked it. Let him know it is bad behavior that wonít go unpunished. If this child shows remorse, you were probably on point. However, donít stop there, take it a step further by attaching a punishment to it. You punished him not because you did not accept his apology but because you donít want a repeat of such shameful behavior.
4.Did a bully put him up to it: if a child who is usually focused and hardworking suddenly begins to steal, a different approach should be used. The parents or teachers should carefully investigate this new bad behavior. chances are that he is being forced to steal stuff from others by a certain bully. This bully should be handled seriously, while you work towards drawing your child closer to you, to a point where he trust you enough to report any incidence of threat on him.
Finally, whatever the reason is behind any theft, the culprit should be made to return whatever h/she had stolen, make an open apology, and most importantly be made to understand how very bad and embarrassing his or her action was.