Anonymous

HELP! 8-yr-old stealing habits

Hi! My 8-year-old adopted son (adopted a year ago) have recently been stealing: money from home, random small things from grocery stores, small items from his classmates. I have no idea how long this has been going on and only started randomly finding out and catching. We tried talking, explaining that it's illegal, punishing.. nothing is working. It is certainly not kleptomania either because he realizes his actions. He recently screamed that he doesn't have anything and other kids do, but he's understanding of "everything" is eating burgers and hot dogs every day, watching cartoons, and an iPhone. We live in a nice house, he attends swimming and Taekwondo classes three times a week, has scooters, hover boards, a bike, electric racing cars.. the only thing I said No to is having a phone and watching a TV more than once a week. I don't want my kid to get used media at the age of 8, so he has a smartwatch so we can call each other. Is this a manipulation over a phone or is it something more? If its over a phone then we certainly don't want to get it now so he doesn't think an illegal action can get him reward. We first found out almost two months ago and have tried to deal with this problem since then... He recently stole a toy from his classmate and his mother threatened with police next time, but we still keep catching him.. Perhaps, you could give some advice because I'm slightly desperate.

  • Anonymous
    May 13

    My first thought would be to take him on a tour of a prison or juvenile detention center... or taking him into a police station and having a police officer talk to him. Use a bit of scare tactics. What sort of punishment have you tried? I would compromise with him with his wants though. He wants burgers and hot dogs? Maybe put a calendar up and say that we can having hot dogs on Monday’s and burgers on Friday’s. Tv only once a week? Do what works for your views and family but remember that too much restriction won’t always result in the best behavior. I had super strict Asian parents and you know what the first thing I did when I turned 18 was? Get a tattoo. Even with my strict Asian parents, we got tv more than once a week. For weekdays... as long as hw and chores were done, we could watch a bit of tv. Weekends? Same deal but not hours on end. That’s just my thought. I fully agree on the phone thing. My husband and I are not planning on getting our kids phones until they start driving. You may be giving your child a lot of opportunities (classes and toys)... but maybe that’s not what he truly wants and needs. Another thing.. don’t make any compromises with him in conjunction with his stealing. Punish him for stealing. If someone has a better suggestion on how to go about this then great... then when he has stopped stealing then put the compromises on the table. If he starts stealing again, then you can take away tv time, fun meal days (hot dogs, hamburgers, etc)

  • Anonymous
    May 13

    Two thoughts. Talk to him and ask why. He’s 8. Have a calm conversation about it, not when he’s actually in trouble. Two, once a week for tv does sound low. I can see it actually being a social problem when he talks to kids at school.

  • Anonymous
    May 13

    It’s challenging to deal with a situation like this and feeling helplessness not being a bio parent. But this can happen to any child, having conversation and also providing professional counseling would be a good idea. My stepdaughter hid my watch which she liked a few days after we met - she denied having seen it and We discovered it later by chance. Instead of shaming her, I told her gently that she could borrow it but hiding was not okay. After that, she never did it again. So, with your love and guidance, he will learn.

  • Rebecca
    May 14

    You mentioned he is adopted. How long has he been with your family? What’s his background? Is he coming from a place is not having a lot. ? Maybe he’s looking for attention or concerned about his stability? I would set guidelines be consistent have punishments. Talk to him Something is behind is behavior.

  • Kate
    May 14

    Not sure if you’re already doing this, but consider going through the action of having him return the stolen items himself (with you present), whether it’s going back to the store or over to a classmate’s house. When I was really young (around 3), I had taken a small toy from a grocery store without my mom knowing and without paying for it. When she found out, we went right back to the store to give it back and apologize. I don’t think I knew I was “stealing” at 3, but it was certainly a lesson that stuck with me. It doesn’t have to be shameful, just more like owning up/taking responsibility for actions and seeing that those actions have an effect on others.

  • Anonymous
    May 15

    Sorry to hear this is happening. It does sound a bit like manipulation. Saying that he doesn’t have what other kids have is very manipulative and definitely playing on your emotions. I’d probably loosen up on the tv once a week. My cousin has a rule with her kids that they can watch 30 minutes of tv per year of age per week. So in your sons case that would be 4 hours a week. That seems pretty generous, in my cousins case her kids collectively probably watch about 3 hours of tv a week and that’s all they want or need. As for the phone, I’d hold strong on that one. But I might give him some phone time on my own phone as a reward. Just remember kids want what their parents tell them they cannot have. As for the stealing, I’m honestly not sure. I’d definitely make him return whatever he steals every single time you catch him. Then I’d also get him into therapy if he’s not already. It sounds like he’s seen and experienced some things that he needs to work through. Good luck.

  • Anonymous
    May 15

    I also agree with the first anon. The repercussions for stealing should be strong and steady. I have a family member in his early 20s who steals and we all refer to him as, “the thief” and he’s basically been ostracized from our family after years and years of us forgiving and trying to forget. No one likes a thief. I honestly don’t even think my thieving family member likes other thieves. Lol. It’s serious though, if breaks trust and ruins relationships forever. Talk to your son about reputation and how it’s so hard to recover from a bad reputation. My uncle, who is a police officer, told me once that in his line of work he sees how it takes almost a hundred correct actions to make up for one bad one. Meaning, repeat offenders or even one time offenders gain a reputation that’s impossible to recover from without years of hard work. Your son needs to learn how to be a productive member of society and stealing isn’t the way.

  • Myrtle
    May 15

    I believe Every behavior (adults and children)is trying to meet a need, so find out what he really needs. From what you’re saying it sounds like his underlying need may be for acceptance with peers. Validate that feeling and let Him know you understand (even if you don’t agree with his perspective). Even though it sounds like you guys are giving him a great life, kids at school can be mean and if he’s wearing the wrong sneakers or doesn’t have the right phone maybe he’s getting made fun of? If he feels like you understand his perspective he might be willing to share more with you as well and you guys can work together to figure out a solution. Definitely set clear boundaries though about what is acceptable and what is not obviously stealing is not OK

  • Ashley
    Friday

    Does he have chores at home where he can earn a little bit of pocket money for himself ? That might help him to learn the value of money and also learn to work for his things. I also agree that he should have to return the item and apologize to the owner . It is good to teach him to take responsibilities for his actions . Also, he might just be needing attention and love, kids do things for all different weird reasons .

  • Anonymous
    Friday

    ^^Ashleys idea is great!!!! In high school, when I turned 15 I announced to my parents that in one year I’d get my license and couldn’t wait to drive my car around!!! My parents reply? “Oh you have a car!? Cool! Where is it??” Lolol. They maybe were t the sweetest about it but they made it clear to me that just because my older friends parents gave them whatever they wanted and just because they (they meaning my own parents) could afford to buy me a car when I turned 16, that wasn’t what was going to happen. So instead they worked out a deal with me....they told me I could find work either by helping them around the house and yard or by babysitting kiddos in the neighborhood or whatever...and they would match whatever I earned dollar for dollar till o had enough $$ to buy a car. I was pissed at first, whyyyyy were my parents so old school!? The AUDACITY of them to make me WORK for something!!!!!! Well, after I moaned and groaned for a couple of days I started working. At home my parents paid me minimum wage at the time (dating myself here but minimum wage was $4.75), and outside of the house I managed to earn a little more. It was all odd jobs and babysitting or dog walking and whatnot. I just kept adding $$ to my savings account and after 1.5 years, I had slightly over $1000!!! My parents doubled it and I was close to $2500. At that time that was enough to buy my first car: a red Chevy cavalier. Stick shift. Lolol. I had enough left over for gas for a little while to cover me driving around finding my first “real” job (like the ones that pay taxes). My parents added me to their insurance and covered the cost until I finished college. Anyway, that’s a long story. But iPhones are what, $1000?? If you have the means, maybe tell him he needs to earn half the cost. Or 3/4 of the cost, and you can meet him the rest of the way. Tell him he will also have to continue to work after the fact to cover the $$ required to add him to your plan. And have serious consequences for stealing. Thieves are truly the worst. He will not make many friends by stealing!! Good luck!

  • Kara
    Saturday

    Maybe someone has mentioned it but, have you considered the possibility that he is testing you? Pushing your limits to see if you will give up on him? He's eight so he knows stealing is wrong but he probably doesn't grasp the full scope of what will happen if he keeps doing it. Persistent bad behavior from an adopted kid though, it might be time to seek a therapist and try to head off some of these issues before it's too late. Also, my three year old has a phone. No active plan but she is allowed to us it and pick games to play and download. She watches TV when she likes, only shows I approve. I'm strict on what she is allowed to watch, not on time limit. Your policy is too stringent and your child might be getting bullied because of it.