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My 4 year old keeps stealing from me, how do I handle this??????

Posted by on Oct. 15, 2012 at 3:05 PM
  • 16 Replies

Hello everyone, I need some help! My 4 year old daughter keeps taking things (she is very sneaky and quiet when doing this too) that don't belong to her. If it had been a rare occurrence I wouldn't even worry about it, but I find that she takes things on almost a daily basis! She always hides these items which leads me to believe that she knows she is doing something wrong. For example a week ago she took the ear thermometer from the bathroom and I found it under her dresser (one of her favorite hiding spots), a few days ago I found my glittler cup for my nails behind her door (another favorite hiding spots), I aslo found a $20 in her toy box (very random spot for her) yesterday she took some eyeliner and colored her wall behind her door and then hid the eyeliner behind her door, then just today I caught her red handed with some of my nail polish but not before she could polish her face, legs, arms and my carpet (I know that given just another minute or two she would have hidden the nail polish behind her door). All of this has happened withing a very short amount of time too. Today, when she took the nail polish I was throwing some laundry in the washer, that only takes a few minutes! I have tried time outs and talking to her I don't know how to stop this. Anyone else gone through this, how do I stop it and make her know that what she is doing is wrong? Thank you for reading and for any help :)

by on Oct. 15, 2012 at 3:05 PM
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Replies (1-10):
NEPhillyRN
by on Oct. 16, 2012 at 8:08 AM
1 mom liked this

I do not have a 4 year old at the time but my 6 year old has been known to "acquire" things, mostly loose change that is lying around. It is frustrating and difficult in a child so young to explain the concequences of the actions when they dont fully understand right/wrong yet. My 6 year old has to return whatever it is he "aquired" and apologize. 

I did some research when I saw your topic, and aside from anything seriously being wrong with your daughter I'd say she is behaving very typical of the age. 4 year olds do not have any control over their environments, everything they do is dictated to them from what they wear to what they eat. They do not understand the concept of money yet they do understand that receiving new things is a rewarding experience and that the green papers we use to buy them are the begining of the reward. She may be seeing you with your eye liner, nail polish, whatever and be feeling like she needs to having these things to be a big girl like mommy. 

Maybe she is just trying to get more of your attention, positive or negative they see all attention as attention. If she has time to find things to hide, maybe she needs an activity to keep her busy while you tend to the chores that need to be done.  I'm not recommending TV, although I have used it in the past. But maybe coloring at the kitchen table while you shower, helping you put away the dishes, sweeping the floor (my kids love the microfiber mop for the hardwood flood, they are not so great at cleaning but it does keep them busy for a few minutes). 

I'm going to try to attach an article that I found. It had 2 good ideas that I think I will use for my own household. There is the missing list... everything that goes missing goes on the list and as long as there is something/anything on the list then privledges are revoked and there is the return basket. A way to return "aquired" items with out punishment.

http://www.azcentral.com/families/articles/0823fam_parenting0823.html?&wired

LaughingTattoo
by on Oct. 16, 2012 at 8:16 AM

THIS

 

My 6 year old dd "takes" things too. She isnt trying to bad and she isnt stealing in her mind. Ive explained it to her and she has done a lot better. For children, aquiring things things isnt about having a wanted object....its about having control in a situation where they dont have control. In my particular situation my 6 yo tries to "hoard mommy". The split with her father was hard on her and bc of the split she lives with him during the week (he lives in her school district where I dont). Shes repeatedly expressed she doesnt want to live with him....shes a mommy's girl and would prefer to live with me all of the time. So, she started taking lipsticks....jewlery....pictures..ect without permission. While she still does this from time to time, Ive helped allieviate the stress by allowing her to hang on to one item of mine at all times...

Quoting NEPhillyRN:

I do not have a 4 year old at the time but my 6 year old has been known to "acquire" things, mostly loose change that is lying around. It is frustrating and difficult in a child so young to explain the concequences of the actions when they dont fully understand right/wrong yet. My 6 year old has to return whatever it is he "aquired" and apologize. 

I did some research when I saw your topic, and aside from anything seriously being wrong with your daughter I'd say she is behaving very typical of the age. 4 year olds do not have any control over their environments, everything they do is dictated to them from what they wear to what they eat. They do not understand the concept of money yet they do understand that receiving new things is a rewarding experience and that the green papers we use to buy them are the begining of the reward. She may be seeing you with your eye liner, nail polish, whatever and be feeling like she needs to having these things to be a big girl like mommy. 

Maybe she is just trying to get more of your attention, positive or negative they see all attention as attention. If she has time to find things to hide, maybe she needs an activity to keep her busy while you tend to the chores that need to be done.  I'm not recommending TV, although I have used it in the past. But maybe coloring at the kitchen table while you shower, helping you put away the dishes, sweeping the floor (my kids love the microfiber mop for the hardwood flood, they are not so great at cleaning but it does keep them busy for a few minutes). 

I'm going to try to attach an article that I found. It had 2 good ideas that I think I will use for my own household. There is the missing list... everything that goes missing goes on the list and as long as there is something/anything on the list then privledges are revoked and there is the return basket. A way to return "aquired" items with out punishment.

http://www.azcentral.com/families/articles/0823fam_parenting0823.html?&wired


PinkButterfly66
by on Oct. 16, 2012 at 8:24 AM

My daughter used to do that to me too.  Once she hid my yard stick.  I looked EVERYWHERE for it.  I was at the point where I was going to drive to school and pull her out kindergarten so she could tell me where she put it.  I found it in the hall closet.  It used to drive me absolutely insane.  Thankfully she grew out of it.

tiredmomma35
by on Oct. 16, 2012 at 8:57 AM
1 mom liked this
Take her favorite things to do away from her and tell her when she decides to behave and stop stealing, then she could have her favorite things back.
Dannille33
by on Oct. 16, 2012 at 9:09 AM
I would talk with get and enforce rules about stealing. I would also stand firm of consiqence and tell get why she is punished if she takes things. It sounds like previous moms have states very good ideas worth a try..:)

Good luck!
sunflowers12
by on Oct. 16, 2012 at 10:25 AM

well, it sounds like a few things are going on here to me.. one she sounds board and two trying to get attention and sometimes negative attention is just as good... secondly have you tried rounding up these items and locking them up?? i mean she really shouldnt have nail polish.. what has been the consequences in the past?? well, it sounds like you are going to have to beef up your tactics to me... start by locking your personal item away then see what she does if she moves on to other things or someone else's things..


if so discipline what ever method you chose and be consistent... reasoning is not going to work you can try, but its not going to do it.. time out well, to me time out doesn't work in our jail systems so i really don't know how its going to work for kids especially little ones... it might be as simple is out of sight out of mind scenario... one other thing is because its "make up" it leads me to believe she probably would like some of her own and there's little girl stuff for four and up that will not hurt them.. but as with all thing super vision is required.. not to say you don't but for the walls sake..


this story has reminded me of a time when my now 10 year old used to take my dhs things and hide them... he would take off with his wallet because dh left it laying around my son was around you dds age at the time... whats funny is it was just dhs stuff never mine it also leads me to believe that because my dh never really spent time with him and stuff that my son was going to get his attention no matter what it took well, he found it wasn't quite what i think he was looking for thou...


my dh has a bad temper espeacilly when things are not going his way.. i never associated it with stealing because stealing to me requires a law to be broken, but he saw it as trying to be funny.. my son got into lots of trouble over it... i think my dh even spanked him, but he stopped...  my dh is very not responsible when it comes to keeping up with his things, but he did evenually start putting his things up better sometimes!!.. i think if it had not been laying around the wallet would have never been hidden...


best of luck to you:)simple smile

Jinxed8
by Gold Member on Oct. 16, 2012 at 11:50 AM

my daughter does that too occasionally but I've always told her not to touch my stuff ... she knows it's wrong and most times will ask before or admit to it before I even notice.  if all else fails in your case I wonder what would happen if you started taking her stuff ?  Or some reverse psychology ??

Lindalou907
by Bronze Member on Oct. 16, 2012 at 12:01 PM

Her brain is still very immature,so don't think she'll never outgrow this. At the same time though,whatever consequence she hates most,time-outs,taking away a favorite toy,do that consistantly. And always be modeling honest and kind behavior.

Marimaru
by on Oct. 16, 2012 at 2:31 PM

I think if my daughter started doing this, I would start taking things out of her room and putting them up.  Every time I found something she wasn't supposed to have, I would take another thing out of her room to store away, and she would have to earn them back when she quit taking things.

JTnJT
by Member on Oct. 16, 2012 at 11:16 PM

My nephew went through a similar "stage"...my dad brought him to the local police station, and asked one of the deputies to sit down and explain to him what usually happens to someone when they steal.  I'm not saying there isn't another way to get the message through...but it does seem that when we as parents can't seem to get our message across...someone in uniform....well...they will usually be more successful.  My nephew never stole anything after that...(at least not that anyone knows of) and I have heard him tell neighborhood kids that stealing is a crime, and that policemen arrest people who commit crimes...so we know somewhere in that mind of his...he has respected what that police deputy said to him.  Oh, and he was only 5 at the time.

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