How to Deal When Your Child Steals Something

By Abby Tolbert /

Kids are pure-intentioned. They see the goodness in the little things that adults take for granted, like the sound of pots and pans clanging together and the sight of a ceiling fan twirling around the room. But somewhere along the way, children learn the word “no,” and turn into adorable little monsters who will stop at nothing to get what they want, including shiny new toys in the checkout line. 

If you find out your child has stolen from the store, don’t panic! It can be a wonderful learning experience. Here’s what you can do:

Emphasize Honesty: It really is the best policy. A constant dialogue will help prevent this sort of thing from happening again.

Return Stolen Merchandise: Whether you’re in the parking lot or made it back home, bring your child to the store to return the merchandise. Have them write an apology letter if they’re old enough to do so.

Teach your child about personal property: Talk to your child about taking care of his or her belongings. Try to create rules about respect that ensure everyone in your household asks before borrowing items. 

Ask Why They Stole the Item: Kids have their own rationale for the seemingly odd things they do. When you ask why they stole, it’ll help you address the root of the problem. 

Assess the Situation: Be honest with yourself. Is this a one-time occurrence or a recurring pattern? If it’s something that keeps happening, a deeper issue may be at play.