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How to handle a child in the habit of picking up others' things?

Q: My daughter is 5 years old. She is extremely active and also intelligent and goes to one of the best schools in the city. Of late she has developed a habit of picking up things that do not belong to her and getting it home. This may be either from school, friends house or while playing in the evenings with other kids. She does it in such a manner that people do not realise the act or the missing item which may be a pencil, hair clip, eraser, part of a jigsaw puzzle etc. In most of the cases the item she picks up is similar to or something she already owns herself. We are affluent and she is our only kid and has the best of things toys, games, clothes etc. We have counselled her a couple of time yet.... Why does she do this and how does one handle this ?

A:It is a little puzzling. Usually, if the children are not economically deprived, such acts would be considered as drawing attention to themselves, wanting to be noticed, even scolded. But not getting parental attention may not be your daughters problem, though it is not clear from your short account, whether there are paid staff to look after her. There is no cause for worry, as she will probably outgrow the habit in a few months. But it is a good idea to ask her why she brings such objects home. Perhaps she could be made to return them, saying she took them by mistake. The positive response that she gets from her friends and classmates when she returns even small things may be a kind of psychological reward. Also, since you say that she is attending one of the best schools in your city, you could talk to her teacher to see if she has any suggestions. Parents should spend time with her when they are all enjoying it, not only for the tasks of feeding, bathing etc. Read her stories and teach her songs. Cuddle her and make her feel assured that she is loved. Listen to her when she talks to you. These simple acts can take care of most problems.

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