Your child is obedient, friendly, does good in the school, puts dishes in the sink and you wonder why does your child steals?
Having sticky fingers is not so unusual in kids of 5 to 6 year old. Generally children of 5 to 6 years begin to develop conscience at that stage and at times they find it tough to resist their temptation to steal something that they want. However stealing is not always an impulsive decision. Important to note is that as parents you should not panic.
Many children steal because they think that there is nothing wrong about it. Some steal because they want to get attention.
The question now arises is what you should do as parents when you find out that your child has sticky fingers. You need to first find out that whether it has happened for the first time or your child has a pattern of stealing.
Strictly make your child understand that stealing is wrong and you would not forgive it. Even if your son steals a candy from a shop, make him return it. In case, if he has already eaten it, take him to the shop and make him apologize. Going to the shopkeeper might be embarrassing for the child but this would send a clear message to the child that it is an unforgivable act.
Don’t engage in punishing your child physically. This would only worsen the situation. As a parent, you need to be patient and talk to your child gently and yet firmly that you won’t allow it. Screaming or slapping your child won’t solve the problem. You need to figure out the root cause and nip it in the bud.
Parenting advice: Consider it an opportunity
Instead of considering stealing as a problem, take it as an opportunity to teach your child about right and wrong. You can take it as a possibility to instill the good family values of honesty and integrity in your child.
If your child steals just to fit in with the peers or overcome inferiority complex, you can provide a solution like giving allowance to the child for doing some simple household chores.
Most importantly, watch your own behavior. Do what you preach. For instance, if you are mistakenly given more items in less money at a store, return the items to the store owner in the presence of the child. Watching parents perform such actions go a long way in teaching kids about moral values.
Spend quality time with your child, take him/her to a good children’ motivational movie. Or watch an inspirational video with your child. Reading good books that teach about good values and watching a motivating video daily with your child will go a long way in building good character, instilling family values in kids, gain self-esteem and strengthen your child’s development.
If stealing still persists, you can take the help of a counselor or a therapist.