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My 9 year old won't stop stealing, what do I do?

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HELP! My 9 year old son is stealing and I don't know how to get him to stop.

The first I noticed it was when we were in the car after leaving a restaurant, he said (with his big fat fibber sign on his face) that he forgot and had candy from the charity jar in his hand. We had already left and were driving home, I took the candy from him and we had a talk about stealing, how its not right, about what the candy was for and who it was raising money for, etc.  He apologized and I thought that would be the end.

Then my mother comes back from taking him to the Lego club at the local library, she pulls me aside and tells me she was shocked to find he had stolen the creation he made in Lego club, (you have to leave your creations there so they have Lego's for next month's Lego club).  He had tried to hide it from her and she had noticed him acting weird and found the Lego's.  He acted shocked like he had no clue how it got in his hands.  She said she would take him back to the library and make him return it, but she never followed through I never followed up on it either. 

A month or two ago while cleaning his bedroom we came across under his mattress a magazine of his step-dad's (sports illustrated swimsuit edition) and several Victoria's secret catalogs he had taken from the mailbox.  This is the odd thing, several months earlier my son told my mother that he had "tripped" over a magazine with girls in swimsuits that was in the garage and he was upset that he had to see that.  She told me so we could make sure things like that were locked away, my husband went to go find the magazine and couldn't, he asked my son if he had seen it or done something with it and he said no.  Clearly now a lie.  So my husband had a talk with him about his body changing and girls and so on but also made it clear that it wasn't ok to take things that don't belong to you, he can't take his magazines or my mail.  He made him throw those things away.

Then not even 3 weeks ago, I realized I was missing $20 from my desk, I immediately knew he had taken it and called him down to me, asked for the money which he denied, I told him I knew he was lying and wanted the money, he pulled it right out of his pocket and handed it to me.  After a day of calming down, we all sat down and talked, I researched some online and found that this is normal, but all the articles said that its normal one time, they don't go into if he does it over and over again.  When we talked again we talked about the behavior and it being bad, made sure he knew he wasn't a bad person but that what he was doing was bad.  He was punished by having his allowance stopped, although all chores had to continue, he lost TV and video games for a month and had to write "I will not steal" 75 times a night for 10 nights.  The next day he asked me to give him money to buy things at the book fair at school, I told him no, I couldn't give him money when he had stolen from me.

Tonight, while looking for some lost library books, I found $20 under his pillow as well as a book on bondage (YES, bondage OMG!!) under his bed.  Turns out the book he found at his fathers place and brought home, the $20 he stole from his brother.  He also confessed to stealing at least $20 more to buy books at the book fair, only TWO days after being punished for stealing!

This time tonight is the only time he's apologized without being told to apologize and the only time he actually looked remoresful.  I don't know what to do at this point.  I think its time to call his doctor, what I've read online tonight is so borderline.  They say stealing after being told to stop and showing no remorse is something to be concerned about, he almost fits that. 

Anyone else had experience with this??

by on May. 9, 2012 at 9:17 PM
Replies (11-20):
by on May. 10, 2012 at 12:38 AM

No, but I think I would try some major scare tactics. I would go up to the police station ( I actually know some one up there, so I'm not sure if they would do this for your or not) and tell them that you have a 9 year old that has been caught stealing from some family members, tell them about him taking stuff from you, his dad and his brothers (I would leave out the stuff about stealing from the Lego thing just in case) and see if they could help you stage a major scare tactic on him. See if you can get one of them to come up to your house and ask to speak with him because the police officer has heard that he was taking things that don't belong to him. Maybe you could get the cop to talk to him about stealing (or what I was really thinking was taking him down to the station, hey, might sound brutal but my parents were going to do this to me and I wasn't even doing anything!) Maybe if he talks to a cop about it, he might straiten up. Pretty much scare him to death (not that cops are bad) but that by stealing he is going to have to go to jail. That might straiten him up a bit. Again, sounds crazy and brutal, but it just might work. Good luck

by on May. 10, 2012 at 12:43 AM
1 mom liked this

my ss was like that. i drove him to the nearest juvie center and asked him if thats where he wanted to end up cuz i could drop him off now if he wanted. (the place had tall barbed wire fences and bars on all the windows lol) he started crying and said he would never do it again and hasnt.

by Bronze Member on May. 10, 2012 at 1:15 AM

Agreed. I would have made him return the candy and speak to management. OP, did I understand correctly that it was from one of those little charity fundraiser candy things? If so, I'd give him a lesson on what that charity is and why it needs to sell that candy and make money, and make him do chores to earn extra money to donate to the charity. I'd also make him return the Legos, speak with the librarian, and sit out a week or two of the Lego club.

Quoting emilysmom8:

Also you have to follow though with things, first after you found out he stole the candy, I would have turned around and took him back into the resturant and had him tell the manager what he did. Also The legos I would have took him back to the library and had him tell the librarian what he did.

by on May. 10, 2012 at 3:40 AM

I had a bad habit of stealing at the same age. Still to this day i don't know why really. But I can tell you what made me stop. I'm the eldest of four kids. my sister next in line is 6 years younger so that gives a picture of how embarrassing this was. Any time we went to a store I had to sit in the cart while my sisters, and infant brother were allowed on the OUTSIDE I quit stealing after that. I was horrible and stole from everyone and everywhere and always stupid things too. Like opening a pack of gum and taking just one piece.

by on May. 10, 2012 at 3:42 AM
If this is a continuous thing and your punishments don't change it your might want to contact your local pd Abd see if a cop would come by and talk to him ( on the cops own time. Most don't mind doing this )
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by on May. 10, 2012 at 8:47 AM
1 mom liked this

OP,  You have received great advice from everyone so far... (okay, except for beating your child)...     I agree that consistent consequences are an absolute must when dealing with any type of behavioral issues.   If then, the behavior continues even though those consistent consequences have been utilized several times - and have no effect, then indeed, professional child behavioral help is a must.

Dilateyourmind is right, finding the root, WHY the behavior is occuring (which he is not likely able to comprehend if it is an impulsive/compulsive issue that he cannot self-regulate.)   Kids do have a sense of right and wrong, but when they KNOW what they do is wrong, AND FEEL BAD about it, but cannot stop doing it anyway.... they not only need help... they WANT help but don't know how to ask.

Quoting dilateyourmind:

THERAPIST AND PRONTO! There is a difference between a kid who steals and oops I should not have done this. This is of an obsessive comulsive nature. Get to the root sooner than later. This is NOT typical kid stuff.

  • Bupkie..... 

  • ~~~ My philosophy on sharing info is that it's just free info (not advice) so please take it or leave it.  If it fits great!  If not, leave it on the ground and dance on it for fun!!! :) ~~~   thank you
by Member on May. 10, 2012 at 8:58 AM

i have not had to deal with this situation  but I have a friend whos son was stealing, we live in a small town, and everyone knows the sherriffs and so she talked to the sherriff and he came to the house and "arrested" him and took him to the county jail for a  couple hours...he never has stolen since..

by on May. 10, 2012 at 9:03 AM

I would takle him to the police station and have a cop speak with him..That might be all you need in order to make him realize it is not ok to steal

by on May. 10, 2012 at 9:07 AM

 Mine would get one hell of an ass paddling and then be grounded along with a talk with the police.

by on May. 10, 2012 at 9:43 AM
I will beat them and then take all of their things from them. The reason why he is still doing it is because he is trying to see how far he will go and how far he will take you and see how far he will go. The problem is also that now they say that we can not hit our kids but that is the reason why they do what they do. Mine know if they steal that I will beat the hell out of them not my husband but me they know that.
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