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You can never challenge your child with circumstantial evidence. Either child will lie and you will reinforce his dishonesty or he will confess. If he tells truth and you punish him, you will be teaching him that it pays to lie. Either way you are stuck. Circumstantial evidence won't do.
Hearing that your child stole from a third party won't do. If your child denies it, then you are forced to believe your child. If you don't, then you will show your child that you don't trust him. Nothing encourages a child to be dishonest more that knowing that his parents don't trust him. If child confesses, you will not be able to punish him.
Even if you are 99% sure your child is stealing that is not good enough to accuse him. For example, say that you look in your purse and brand new $50 you took out from bank yesterday is missing. You put your child's laundry away and you find hidden among his things your brand new $50. You did not catch your child. Maybe someone else also lost a new $50 bill and he found it. Maybe your $50 fell out of your purse and your child found it on street. Unless you see your child reach into your purse and take out $50 you did not see him steal.
4-Make Sure that Your Child Knows What He Did is Wrong
This is particularly true of a younger child.
What to Do When You Catch Your Child
Don't ask child for explanations. Merely state that he is not allowed to take things from other people. Do not sermonize. Just use simple explanations.
"Stealing is wrong. You would not want anyone to take your toy. So it's wrong for you to take this toy."
Never imply that your child is bad. Stealing is bad, not child. Do not call your child a thief, dishonest, or a liar or any other name that you do not want him to become. When you give your child a label, he will grow to fill that label.
If Your Child Stole From Someone Outside Family
Your child must make restitution. If your child stole from a store or from a neighbor, then see that he returns object. Have your child apologize and say he or she will never do it again. You should accompany your child to make it easier for him to correct damage.
If Your Child Stole Money from You
Estimate what child took and make it clear that child must pay you back. He may do this by helping around house for money. You should pay him enough that he pays off his debt in about a month. Say to him that you realize he needs more money and give him an allowance or increase in allowance.
Don't leave money around where child can find it. Tell his siblings that you are going to watch their money for a while. Don't tell them why. Don't send this child to store to buy something with a large bill where there will be a lot of change.
Putting Incident into Past
Figure Out Why Your Child Stole
If he needs more attention make a special effort to give it too him. If he needs to feel more control over his life, give him an increase in allowance and more freedom to spend it as he wishes. If he needs certain things to be part of his peer group, make sure that he gets them.
Continue to Trust Your Child
If your child is stealing it does not mean he is bad or he is a thief. You don't want your reaction to make him become that way. Your child will fulfill your expectations of him. If you view him as a thief, bad, or dishonest he will grow into that label.
Be a Model of Honesty
Children learn by watching their parents. You should show concern about property rights of others. A parent who brings office supplies home or boasts about a mistake at supermarket checkout counter, teaches his child that honesty is not important.
Stealing is a common problem. You should view it like any other mistake your child makes. It is something that has to be corrected, but it is not more than that. If you handle it properly, you can correct this problem quickly and easily.
If you want more information on ways that you can teach even most difficult child to obey you, please see our Child Behavior Program at http://addadhdadvances.com/child-behavior.html
Anthony Kane, MD ADD ADHD Advances http://addadhdadvances.com
Anthony Kane, MD is a physician and international lecturer. Get help for your ADHD child, including (http://addadhdadvances.com/child-behavior.html) child behavior advice, Oppositional Defiant Disorder. Share your views at the (http://adhd-add.blogspot.com) ADD ADHD Blog. Sign up for the free ADD ADHD Advances online journal. Send an email to: firstname.lastname@example.org?subject=subsart.