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Why is our child stealing money?

Q: I have a son 8 years old in the 3rd standard. Both my wife and me are working. We try to spend as much time as possible with him. He goes to the creche in our absence and an afternoon school. We provide him with good food including chocolates and toffees (and sometimes wafers and other things liked by him) which he is allowed once in a day. He has recently been found to be stealing money from home to enjoy eatables outside in school and in the colony shop. On coming to know we have tried to persuade him (also rebuked and rarely beaten) to stop stealing and having eatables outside. He rarely comes out with the truth and is very adamant (and confident) that he did not steal any money. We have countered all this with facts by checking from the school shop etc. Still he continues to do so. He is good at studies. This has increased since my mother came to live with us. Could you please advise us on how to handle our child in such a situation?

A:I can see that the problem needs attention at several levels. You have to explain to your child that taking money stealthily is a very serious thing. It could be from parents now and from others later. If it becomes a lifelong habit, the consequences can be prison experience! You may have to explain to him that too many chocolates and biscuits will make him fat and unpopular. I am intrigued by your statement that the eating out has increased since your mother came to live with you. Is the child taking money from your purse because the grandmother is very strict and is curtailing his privileges? Or is she indulgent and tending to spoil him? In either case, he has to be made to see reason. Is it possible to get him interested in Karate or Sports, so that his time and energy are better channelled? You could also say that if he continues to steal your money, the school and his friends would come to know of it. That would mean rejection by his mates. Try to get him into some group activities, where interaction with others is necessary. Spend time telling him stories that emphasise our values. Let him realise that it is necessary to value the right of others to life and property. Sometimes children are naughty in order to get the attention of adults. Make sure you give him time when he has obeyed the rules.

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