What To Do When a Child Steals

Dear Sara,

My nine year old son has been stealing money from my purse. I am not sure what to think about this as he has not done anything like this before. I have not confronted him yet because I want to know the best way to handle this problem. Please help.
-Diana

Dear Diana,

You definitely need to talk to your son about his stealing. He may feel it’s OK to take money from you without asking. Even if this is true you need to straighten him out and let him know that it’s never OK to take someone else’s things without their permission. There should also be a consequence for his actions that would fit with how much money he has taken. If it was only some change then maybe no TV or games for a couple of days. If he stole a significant amount of money then his punishment should be greater.
Maybe you could also delve into why your son wanted money. Do his friends have money to spend when they get together? Is there something he wants bad enough to risk your anger? He needs to learn that if you want something then you need to earn the money to pay for it. Give your son some chores to do that are appropriate for a nine-year-old. He could wash dishes or feed the pets or water your flowers. He will feel better about himself if he is able to earn some money and gain your respect.
-Sara

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