Has your child been caught stealing from you or someone else? Have you found them using your credit card for online gaming, taking money from your wallet without asking, or even taking big-ticket items from your house?

The anger, disappointment, and lack of trust you feel can be destructive to your relationship. Empowering Parents coach Carole Banks has some advice.

Stealing is not about you and your parenting—it’s about your child and the inappropriate ways they’re choosing to solve their problems at the moment.

If your child has been caught stealing, you might have wondered, “Why would my child do this after everything we’ve taught them?” Many parents question their own abilities and wonder where they’ve gone wrong with their child when theft is involved.

And while it’s disappointing and frustrating for parents when their child steals, I firmly believe that in most cases, it’s a behavior that can be changed.

Younger Kids: Take it Easy

There is a big difference between children under the age of 6 taking something compared to older kids who steal. Really young kids don’t have a sense of right and wrong about this issue yet. Their brains haven’t developed enough to think outside of themselves and about others.

If your younger child has been taking things, focus on teaching them the skills of sharing. Teach them to ask for what they would like to have. And teach them to take turns.

When your child gets to be a little older, you need to coach them to say, “I’m sorry, I shouldn’t have taken that without asking.” But you don’t want to make them feel like they’re a bad person. And don’t label it as stealing. Instead, make it clear that taking something without asking is wrong.

Older Kids: Make Sure Crime Doesn’t Pay

If your child is nine or older and they’re taking things from you or others, you should treat the problem more seriously. As James Lehman says, “Understand that your child is using faulty thinking as a way to solve their problem.”

The “problem” might be that your ten–year–old wants a new video game but doesn’t have any money. They “solve” it by taking money from your wallet without asking. They’re probably thinking, “I need this money. Mom’s not even going to notice.”

When you catch your child using this faulty thinking, you can say:

“Just because you want something doesn’t mean it’s okay to take it without asking.”

And then ask:

“What should you do next time?”

It’s important that you don’t allow your child to keep what they took. They should never benefit in any way from taking something from someone else. You don’t ever want stealing to pay off.

Make Amends

Many parents will call parent coaching when their kids have taken something from a store. They’re worried their child will be prosecuted if they take the shoplifted item back. They decide to give the child a consequence, such as no T.V., but they allow the child to keep the stolen item.

It’s best to require your child to take the item back to the store. I understand this can be a complicated decision, depending on the age of your child and where you live. This has to be a choice you make after weighing all possible outcomes.

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If you decide against having your child take it back, make sure they don’t get off scot-free. Give them consequences at home—and do not let them keep the item. You ultimately want your child to learn that when you harm someone, even if it’s the owner of a store, you should make amends directly to that person. That is why the best lesson is for your child to take the item back.

Related content: Why is My Child Stealing and What Can I Do? Advice for Parents on Kids, Stealing and Shoplifting

When Your Child Uses Your Credit Card

I’ve talked with many parents whose kids have used their credit card to buy something online. Often, they’ve used it for gaming. Even if the money is gone and cannot be retrieved, don’t let your child off the hook. They can make amends by doing something extra around the house to work it off. For example, they can clean out the basement, the garage, or do yard work.

The bottom line is that you want to try to teach your child to make amends to the person they’ve wronged. In this case, that person is you. I also recommend that you log on to your credit card account frequently—daily if necessary—to monitor your card’s activity.

When Your Child Takes Big-Ticket Items: Are Drugs Involved?

If your child is taking large amounts of money or big-ticket items from your home, I think you need to question why. If you think drugs might be involved, there are probably other signs that are telling you that your child has a problem, like changes in mood or personality. You should definitely look into the possibility that they’re taking drugs and rule it out.

If you know your child has a problem, but you haven’t been able to get them off drugs or into treatment, then consider reporting their thefts to the police to get them into the juvenile justice system. Many states have drug courts, where kids do not have to serve sentences in a juvenile detention center as long as they’re in treatment and clean. If you suspect drugs, reporting repetitive theft to the police can be a good course of action.

Here’s the truth: a child who is never made to be accountable will never learn from their mistakes. In your own home, have your kids make amends as directly to you or the injured party. This drives home the meaning of what they’ve actually done. It lets them know that their actions have caused harm to someone.

When Stealing Continues

If your child can’t stop stealing, you need to help level the playing field for them by finding out what’s causing this to happen over and over. You also might want to secure items in your home and keep your wallet in a safe place at all times until your child can learn how to solve their problems more appropriately.

I want to stress that even if you’re worried about your child’s character, don’t let them think that you feel they’re a bad, horrible person. Rather, you need to convey the opposite. They need to make amends and do the right thing because that is what good people do. You want to say things like:

“I know it’s hard, but I believe you can do it.”

When you change your opinion of your child as a person and start thinking that they’re “bad” or that there’s something wrong with their character, there is great potential to harm the relationship. Your child will sense that you have a poor opinion of them and could start to lose hope in their ability to ever change.

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If your child continues to take things from you, you will need to firmly address their faulty thinking. There may be an emotional need or impulsivity that drives their behavior.

There are also many parents who call our parent coaching team with adopted kids who steal from their families. Not all adopted kids steal, of course, but sometimes kids with traumatic backgrounds may have trouble trusting other people to meet their needs, so they take food and other items and hoard them.

When Your Child Denies the Theft

I often tell parents that if you know for sure that your child has stolen something, act with that knowledge. Just say:

“I think that you used my credit card because you wanted to download some video games. And I’m going to ask you to make amends for that.”

If you don’t know for certain and your child denies the theft, then I don’t think you can give them a consequence. You don’t want to accuse your child of something that they haven’t done because it can end up really backfiring on you. They may act out just because you believe they’re capable of it. Basically, unless you catch your child red-handed, I wouldn’t punish them.

I understand that parents feel hurt and betrayed after their child has stolen something. But try not to take the fact that they stole personally. Stealing is not about you and your parenting. Rather, it’s about your child and the inappropriate ways they’re choosing to solve their problems at the moment.

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Carole Banks, LCSW holds a Masters Degree in Clinical Social Work from the University of New England. Carole has worked as a family and individual therapist for over 16 years, and is a former online parent coach for Empowering Parents. She is also the mother of three grown children and grandmother of six.

Comments (195)
  • Carol
    Catch it in the bud. It will only get worse. I know someone who stole assets and irreplaceable mementoes by abusing her role as POA. The adult child took advantage of her mom when the mom became ill. The child also failed to realize that POA is only for whenMore someone is ill and not when the person recovers. Not only did the adult child steal but failed to take responsibility for paying the bills. The mom found herself dealing with collection agencies. The POA does not have to be a family member but must be someone who has your best interests in mind and not their own.😥
  • Grandparent
    I have 2 grandchildren I get them for a week every summer the last 2 summers things have gone missing that must have been taken. They denied it. I dont know what to do. Both of their parents steal,
  • Arlene
    My son 16 has been stealing mostly from me since 10. Usually denies it. Recently I secured proof from his phone. He became hysterical tried turning himself in to police. He says he can’t help it and cries fir help. We have tried numerous therapist no help. Begging for someoneMore who deals with this kind of addiction can’t find.
    • Denise Rowden, Parent CoachEP Coach

      If you would like local counseling, we suggest that you look for a family counselor that uses cognitive behavioral techniques, sometimes referred to as CBT, or a family systems counselor. Family counseling, instead of individual counseling, would be in line with the program’s techniques. A great place to begin your search is Psychology Today (https://www.psychologytoday.com/ ). Psychology Today is the leading site on which therapists list their services and you should be able to find many in your area. Our RESOURCES (https://www.empoweringparents.com/resources/) page may be able to connect you to the help you are searching for.

      We appreciate you reaching out. Take care.

  • Brenda
    How do you help a 10 year old boy that has ADHD in trauma problems that constantly Steals and lies from his grandparents
    • Denise Rowden, Parent CoachEP Coach
      Thank you for reaching out. We have several articles for managing these frustrating behaviors. You can find articles about stealing here: https://www.empoweringparents.com/article-categories/child-behavior-problems/stealing/ and articles about lying here: https://www.empoweringparents.com/article-categories/child-behavior-problems/lying/. Something to keep in mind about both of these behaviors is they're neither moral issues or character flaws - they're aMore reflection of his poor problem solving skills. So, an approach that focuses on helping him develop more effective problem solving skills will be more productive than one that focuses solely on punishing the behavior. I hope this helps. Take care.
  • Ebony Gutierrez-Bruton
    I really need help. I have a daughter who just turned 11. I have constantly been dealing with her stealing since she was roughly about 5 years old. I thought it was a phase and continously taught her that taking things just because she want it is not the rightMore thing to do. I thought she would have grown out of the behavior but it seems to be getting worst. She continously steals food in which she doesn't have to. Me and my husband explains to her that if she want something to just ask but it seems to go on deaf ears. Her stealing got so bad that she is taking snacks from kids in school and even stealing my infant daughter teething snacks. I tried even hiding the snacks in my room to get her to ask but it does not work she just go in my room and take it. Not only is it snacks but she has got caught stealing my husband's grandmother phone and tablet, money from myself and anything else she can get her hands on. She also lies to cover it up to the point that even her knowing she did it and she knowing that we know she did it and provide her with proof she still lies claiming that she did not do it until I stress to her how I know that she was the one to do it. The behavior is so scary because she will look you in the eye with a serious face adamant that she is innocent and if she can do that with stealing I am afraid of what else she could be hiding and lying about as she get older. I tried everything from positive reinforcement to negative reinforcement and nothing seems to work. I need help especially since I have kids under 5 and do not want them thinking that what their older sister is doing is acceptable. Please if anyone has any type of advice it would be truly appreciated.
    • Denise Rowden, Parent CoachEP Coach

      Thank you for reaching out to Empowering Parents. I can understand your distress. Stealing and lying are both big button issues for many parents. One thing that may help is recognizing that both lying and stealing are more about lack of effective problem solving skills than moral issues or character flaws. It is important to hold her accountable for the behaviors and even more important to help her develop more effective coping and problem solving skills. Sara Bean wrote an excellent article on problem solving skills you may find helpful:https://www.empoweringparents.com/article/the-surprising-reason-for-bad-child-behavior-i-cant-solve-problems/.

      We appreciate you being part of our Empowering Parents community. Take care.

  • Daisy
    I loaned my son $47,000 which is part of my retirement money to buy a condo. The deal was when he sold the condo I would get my money back. It's 12 years & he sold the condo and he has decided not to return my money. More I can't reconcile this to myself. There is no good reason for what he is doing. How can I get past this.
  • Djcash
    Thr problem with making them do chores is most kids are already required to do chores so than what they dont care about doing more chores i suggest not letting them go out or if thier old enough of course making them pay it back
  • Troublesome nephew
    Whist my fiance was pregnant we received a phone call from her sister that her son was in trouble and asked if we could foster him for 1 year in fear he would be taken into social services, at the time we agreed, from then we started having issues, IMore tried to enroll him at schools, in which he snuffed and every question the school asked the child clearly stated his undesire to learn. After that, I decided to try and home school him to keep him proactive and learning until we could enroll him at a school. This was quickly squashed by the child and his mother both rejecting my attempt that I was not a teacher. With the teenager still at home doing nothing I constantly tried to get him into a school which was not achieved until a year later, (already overdue when his mother said we would keep him). Now child is in school his behaviour has worsened. We give him £50per week for food (after his mother refused we buy for him) but he continues to steal what little food we have, when we ask him we have a feeling he took food he completely denies it and his mother sides with him. Recently it has become worse and money and electronics have gone missing, he denies it and again his mother believes him, he has since been refusing to tidy his room, after many requests I have now removed all his stuff from his bedroom in a final attempt to get through to him, again it appears his mother is supporting his behaviour and in denial about any negative behaviour, and bedroom is untidily for 1 month + in 2 months, he will return to his mother but his behaviour is getting worse and don't think we can last, recently £250 went missing, we all know who did it, said party has new devices and games, but mother again refuses to acknowledge it. Was told only 2 months left, but enough is enough
  • Eugene
    I would also refrain from leaving wallets, purses, and cash out in the open. Place these items (or any others you think your son or daughter is prone to steal) in a locked area where your son or daughter can't get to them. Leaving any such items out in theMore open is inviting the very problem you're seeking to avoid.
  • 22 year old daughter stole $40K cash
    We live in Ontario, Canada. Our daughter has stolen from us multiple times, credit cards, cash i the past. $200 to $2000 at a time. We are not rich, my wife and I both work of butts off to get ahead. Our daughter dropped out from 1st year University andMore did not take advantage of a full paid RESP. Recently she stole CAN $40,000 we had set aside to renovate our house. Her mother found the keys in our daughter's drawer. My wife screamed oh my GOD! my copies of the keys! and fair enough, she was right. The money was gone. Our daughter does not live with us and although I had little contact with her (due to her past behaviour), my wife would always ask her to come visit, cook her a nice meal and go out to get their nails done, stuff like that. I did not get involved. After the theft, I went into a deep state of depression, just could not react, I could not tell anyone, I felt ashamed, fooled, hurt, angry, cannot describe the emotions. Our daughter denies the stealing but with her story of stealing we know it was her. We filed a police report, they took a statement but the police said they were busy and someone would eventually follow up. Although they were sympathetic, they did not take the case seriously, it seems. The cop said such cases are not considered a serious crime in Canada. I realise it is just money which comes and goes. 1st of all, it a large amount of money for us. 2nd the relationship with our daughter is ruined. We changed the locks of the house. My position I will cut ties with her and our family unless I see an admission and a willingness to seek help for whatever issues she has that is making her behave this one. I suspect drugs, bad company, bad boyfriend, mental illness. She seems clean and does not appear to be using heavy drugs.
  • Loving_Mother4ever
    My child has recently stole 40 dollars from my dresser. She is sixteen and she has stolen before. I don't know what consequences I should giver her. I love her but she needs to learn that stealing is wrong.
  • Mom2Alex
    We have been dealing with this since my son was little. He's still stealing and he's almost 13. Last year we hD to change our credit card numbers 3 times. It's exhausting and the impulse control problem paired with the disrespect, violent anger, ODD, and rudeness has been almost moreMore than we can handle.
  • Greatnana
    We are raising our great grandson who has ADHD, ODD, and we don’t know what all else, but he has broken into my computer, tablet, phone, husband’s phone and tablet and others. He has gotten into my credit and debit cards, at least four times. I was keepingMore them in my safe, and what do you know, he stole my keys. We are at the end of our rope. I hope it gets better from here. We are following your advice.
  • Gina
    I have a 12 year old boy who is very welll behaved at home, but a very mis-behaved at school!!!! he has in the past stole from the house, my mother in laws purse and is stealing from pupils bags and coats in school. He under Social Services andMore has had a very feral up bringing. He has been with us now for 2 years and everyone he meets, has indicated a lovely lad. He gets everything, the best clothing and all he needs. He will lie and then get angry towards his sibling who also lives with us. we have tried everything possible and are now at a loose end, in how we can deal with this. Any advice would be great
    • Rebecca Wolfenden, Parent CoachEP Coach
      I hear you. It can be so confusing and frustrating when you provide your child with everything he needs, yet he continues to steal from you and others. Something to consider is that stealing can often be a sign of poor problem-solving skills, rather than an indication thatMore a child is deprived. Along with the steps described in the article above, you might also have a problem-solving conversation with him during a calm time about what he will do differently the next time he is tempted to look through other’s belongings or take things without permission. You can find tips on how to structure this conversation in The Surprising Reason for Bad Child Behavior: “I Can’t Solve Problems”. In addition, as Carole explains in the article, it’s not uncommon for kids who are adopted or who have had trauma in their background to steal or hoard items due to unmet emotional needs. You might reach out to his Social Services caseworker for information on local resources, such as counseling or mentoring programs, which might be able to assist you in addressing this behavior as well. I recognize how difficult this must be for you, and I wish you all the best moving forward. Take care.
  • Kid
    I wish this article was my parents I took some money because everyone at my school has 400 dollar clothes and I'm stuck with a 10 dollar t-shirt and I feel like I don't fit in when my mum and dad found out they called the police on me!
  • FJ

    I agree with what is written in principle. But the bit about stealing credit card to buy game is seriously out of date.

    "call your credit card company and have them notify you if someone tries to use your card for online gaming—or whatever type of site your child was on—in the future"

    Third party payment methods as well as polymorphic merchant(amazon, microsoft store etc) makes this targeted monitoring almost impossible. In all seriousness, you should get a notification for EVERY transaction. Also reduce risk of other people stealing your credit card for things.

    "the game is deleted from the computer"

    This... would only work for maybe half the games the day the article is written. Now? 5-10% maybe.

    Most games now are sold as digital license, which means deleting the game does nothing, it can be downloaded again "for free" as long as the child still have the account used to make the purchase. Continuous monitoring of computer content is possible but could be difficult if there are also legit game of similar title/genre residing in the device--there are a dozen total wars game, can you tell which is which?

    Performing a refund or charge back will likely prevent future access but might result in the entire account associated being banned. If the account only contains "stolen" content, that would be fine. But in case it also contains stuff that the child have earned, potentially by performing chores etc, then I'm not so sure. You guys are probably more of an expert here, is it right for someone to lose access to ten things when he or she have worked for 9 and stolen only the last one?

    And I don't even know what can you possibly do if you didn't notice a digital purchase from say two month ago which you cannot perform charge back on(chance of refund is almost nil at this point, so charge back is only thing you can try). Unless the child cooperates and surrender the account and you make it inaccessible(again, same problem as above if there are "legit" stuff on there too), the only solution you have left might be stopping access to the physical device. And if that's what you resort to, beware of multi-platform/device games, you might have to take away ALL his devices.

    P.S. I noticed the article because someone posted the exert on this particular section in a chat room. I proceeded to find the article and here we are.

  • Rick
    I have a 27 year old brother who keeps spending money on video games. He current does not have a job and was fired from his recent one in which he stole from them. He opened a credit card prior to that and spent $5,000 on a creditMore card he opened and paypal credit over the course of a few months on various items, mostly video games and related items. He's also stolen cash from my parents and even written checks out of their accounts for over $1,500. I've tried to support him and told my parents to go easy on him after the first mistake. But yet he does it over and over again. I'm losing patience with him. I'm running out of ideas on how to teach him to be responsible. He made a good 800 per month on his recent job, but yet still it wasn't enough to spend. He lives at home and has no bills to pay. I could really use some ideas. I know my brother can be responsible, but there might be an underlying issue that I can't figure out.
    • Rebecca Wolfenden, Parent Coach
      We appreciate you writing in to Empowering Parents and sharing your story. I hear how worried you are about your brother, and want to help him to be more responsible with his finances. Because we are a website aimed at helping people become more effective parents, we areMore limited in the advice and suggestions we can give to those outside of a direct parenting role. It may be helpful to look into local resources to help you develop a plan for addressing your particular issues. The 211 National Helpline is a referral service available 24 hours a day, nationwide. They can give you information on the types of support services available in your area such as counselors, support groups, financial services as well as various other resources. You can reach the Helpline by calling 1-800-273-6222 or by logging onto 211.org. We wish you the best going forward. Take care.
  • Ben lusher

    I'm know 20 years old and stuck sleeping in a mobile home next to my parents house. I have access to the kitchen and bathroom that's in the their house.

    My sister and her partner and their child live in the house with my parents. I know that I take things, ,I'll inform them before taking anything which is usually agreed and replace as soon as I can. Know I'm being attacked by everyone in the house for stealing anything and everything . My parents have recently bought a camera where they have caught my sister and her partner and their daughter stealing from them expecailly in the bed room and kitchen. But they still have a go at me for it and are thretening to kick me out. Last time it was about stealing chocolate which wasn't me led to them threatened to kick me out. I haven't took anything and I store most of my food in the mobile home, but they come in and steal from me as well I've even started to buy extra such as milk, coffee, sugar, bread and washing powder to try to prevent them having a go at me. But still they have a go at me for taking and tell me not to buy extras. My sisters partner and daughter have made it so hard and stressful to keep and maintain a job because they keep stealing they even used my credit card to buy legal highs . I can't find a full time job where my parents have not got full control over my income, to pay for driving lesson or find suitable accomadtion while trapped in a village 8 miles away from the nearest town is physically making me sick

  • Mildred G
    If the father have dementia and living with his daughter already in her 40s . And she is steeling money from her dad.., what can be donr
    • Rebecca Wolfenden, Parent Coach
      Thank you for writing in, and I’m so sorry to hear about this situation. Because we are a website aimed at helping people become more effective parents, we are limited in the advice and suggestions we can give to those outside of a direct parenting role. It may beMore helpful to look into local resources to help you develop a plan for addressing these issues. The 211 National Helpline is a referral service available 24 hours a day, nationwide. They can give you information on the types of support services available in your area such as elder abuse/exploitation resources, support groups, kinship services as well as various other resources. You can reach the Helpline by calling 1-800-273-6222 or by logging onto their website. We wish you the best going forward. Take care.
  • Francesca Barreh

    I enjoyed the article by Carole Banks.

    Very informative and I agree with the advice outlined in the article.

    Thanks for sharing.

    I'm a single mom of two kids. My youngest is 10. His father has spent most of his life in and out of jail and a one time prison sentence. I have worked so hard keeping him with counselors, psychologists, mentors, sports, etc. We recently relocated to my mom'said houseMore until we can afford a home of our own. I have a little over $7,000 saved in my bank at home, which both my kids know is for our home. I was going to take my kids out to a special wrestling event tonight and as I was getting ready he walked by and I saw him putting a folded up $20 bill. I asked him innocently where he got the $20. He tells me some kid from school. Are you kidding me?!?!?! I was not born yesterday, nor am I that stupid to believe that. But obviously he thought so because he kept up with that story. He didn't know the kid's name, why the kids gave it to him, etc. I sat him down down and told him there was no way I believed his story and that I wanted the truth. He did not look at me, he did not say another word, not even an apology! He only looked at me when I told him to and then he just looked away and acted like whatever. I told him I was very disappointed but more so heartbroken than anything. I told him whatever he asks for I basically get or do for him or make him work to earn it. I also told him he had lost my trust and that it is easier to keep trust than to earn it back. He lost all electronics, including TV. I'miss not sure if he should loose baseball for a week. I want him to know he did wrong and to learn his lesson now. But I'miss trying to be careful with myself because I don'the want to compare him to his father. That is my biggest fear. Is there something I missed or did I go overboard, I don't think he is taking me seriously.
    • Rebecca Wolfenden, Parent Coach
      Stealing is such a challenging and emotional issue for most families, so you are not alone in feeling this way. I hear your added anxiety with his dad’s decisions, and wanting to avoid a similar future for your son. As Carole Banks points out in another article, More href="https://www.empoweringparents.com/article/youre-grounded-for-life-why-harsh-punishments-for-children-and-teenagers-dont-work/">“You’re Grounded for Life!” Why Harsh Punishments for Children and Teenagers Don’t Work, taking everything away from your son isn’t likely to change his behavior because you can’t punish your kids into better behavior. In fact, this approach can sometimes backfire and lead to even more inappropriate behavior because kids with nothing, have nothing to lose. At this point, it could be useful to try to problem solve with him about what happened with the money, and what he can do differently next time. I recognize what a tough situation this must be right now, and I hope that you will write back and let us know how things are going for you and your family. Take care.
  • Lena

    I caught my daughter looking for money to take from siblings money boxes. She is nearly 13 and has been disruptive for some years. Schools have always blamed us for her behaviour. Even though her behaviour has cost me my job and confidence. Her siblings make mistakes. We talk about them and they don't do it again.

    We got involved with social care who just like her current school place the blame firmly on us.

    I have been sent to parenting classes, mental health assesments (because I got upset talking about her), had every aspect of MY life combed over.

    Just now I got a bill from school, even though she takes a healthy lunch to school she has been buying food there so double ate, plus I caught her off guard with a large helping from the fast food outlet.

    Social care told us we are to blame for her stealing as we should just give her more money. I don't want to live with this girl anymore since she is destroying the family foundation. SC has no psycolical training but an answer for everything. BLAME THE PARENTS.

    Social care in their blindness say she looks a healthy teenager, she is not quite 13 but a firm size 16 in her clothes.

  • familythief
    Our 11 year old daughter is stealing constantly, on a daily basis and has been for the past 2-3 years.  It has grown from stealing sweets from her siblings every week or two, to being a daily problem which now involves stealing money, jewellery, food, sweets and pretty much anythingMore she can get her hands on.  In the beginning it was an annoyance for us, and as the situation has become worse, it has progressed from annoyance, to frustration, to anger.  I have to stress that she has never wanted for anything and only ever had to ask for a treat, and received the same as her siblings.  She and her siblings can sit there with a bag of sweets and she will finish hers and steal theirs.  She has no reason to steal the sometimes random things such as jewellery which she then loses or breaks or simply stashes away.  We are at the end of our rope and find it extremely difficult to deal with as no punishments have deterred her and there is not much support from the family as they think she is an angel.  She is VERY manipulative for a child i must add, as mentioned previously the rest of the family think she is an angel because when in their company she will use her manners, offer to be helpful, much like she WAS when she was younger before this change.  Punishments have also evolved from talking to her, then yelling at her, spanking her, to now having stopped all her after school activities and clubs which she finds fun.  We cannot justify letting her go off and enjoy herself after costing us close to $1000.  Family members comment that it may not be best excluding her from these things, but whether she attends them or not, the stealing ALWAYS continues.  She even went to stay with family to give us a break from it all for a week, and in that week she stole $15 from a family members house as well as chocolate and other items.  We have no idea what to do from here, and as terrible as it may sound, if she was older we would have called the police to give her a scare as it needs to stop.  I could write about this all day to explain the situation further, but i think one of the important things to mention is that her younger brother and sister are great kids who will not even take their own sweets without asking permission and they never do anything wrong.  Id appreciate any feedback.
  • Gloria_999
    I have a 20 year old son who has stolen money from my wallet and I caught him and made him give it back. Last week I came home from work and my 50" smart TV was gone I didn't blame him I told him someone broke in our houseMore and stole our TV... I cried to him.. the very next day the blue ray DVD was missing I asked if he took it and he said he barrowed it. It was in his car. So I told my neighbor someone stole my TV .. he said your son took it. It sounded so Serreal I was in shock .. so I confronted him and he denied it . I took away his house key remote for the gate and told him he needed to leave ..I changed the locks and my Husband put poles in all the windows. 3 days later I was at the hospital with my 3 year old who had pneumonia and my neighbor texted me telling me my son just took the AC wall unit and 2 black boxes .. I rushed home and he used a screw driver to open the back door and took 1 Mac Pro laptop and a regular laptop. I called the police and made a report but they said technically he lives here since you just threw him out so there is nothing they can do. Please help me I'm devastated and feel betrayed and violated by my own son.
  • Mom of a 9yr old


    My 9 year old daughter is stealing constantly. From me, from school on a daily basis pretty much. She even has a reputation in the neighborhood as a thief and some of the kid aren't allowed to play with her. She lost her father 3 years ago and I have her in weekly counseling and she also sees a psychiatrist and is on meds for adhd. No matter what the consequence is and no matter what my fiancé and I say to her she continues to steal. Yesterday morning she stole 5 different things from me. I have explained to her that eventually she will be getting serious consequences for this. I really feel like she is addicted to the rush. She is a VERY smart girl she is in gifted classes and I have her in dance and theatre in her school. I don't know what it is going to take for her to STOP. But people are going to be less forgiving because she is al.ost 10 years old now and should know better. I'm fresh out of ideas of what to say or do. Everyone tells her the same things and she doesn't seem to listen.

  • Ibrahimb


    My daughter sometimes steals money and my wife (her mother) made sure that she did that.  I read in her diaries that she did that on purpose to make us angry because she thinks I and my wife are treating our youngest daughter (8 years old) differently.  We tried to deal with the situation as quietly as possible.  Recently she did the same (we think after a fight with her mother on how my daughter treats her sister).

    Her mother confronted her and she claimed that she did not do it and her mother might overlooked her purse.  At the end of the day, my wife found out that she returned the money to the purse without saying anything.

    My Question is should we (my wife and I) pretend that she found the missing money, or should we not raise the issue any more.?  (We are 100% she did that)

    • RebeccaW_ParentalSupport
      Ibrahimb Stealing can be such a frustrating behavior to address for many parents, and I’m glad that you are here reaching out for support.  At this point, I wouldn’t recommend accusing her of taking the money and then returning it, unless you actually witnessed her doing so.  The truth is,More there is a possibility, however small, that the money was overlooked in the purse.  As pointed out in the article above, accusing kids without proof can be damaging to your relationship.  Instead, it might be useful to secure items like your wife’s purse moving forward until your daughter is better able to manage her impulses.  I also recommend having a https://www.empoweringparents.com/article/the-surprising-reason-for-bad-child-behavior-i-cant-solve-problems/ with your daughter about what she can do if she feels as though she is being treated unfairly, which is still going to follow the rules.  I hope that you will write back and let us know how things are going for you and your family.  Take care.
  • lcart
    My 17 year old son has been stealing money and possessions from us. It happened last year and is happening again. Does anyone know if I take him to the police will they press charges and prosecute him without our consent. Really we want to just scare himMore but do not want to prosecute him. Any advice?
    • RebeccaW_ParentalSupport
      lcart I recognize how frustrating it can be when you have a child who is continuing to steal from you, and you ask a great question.  Because law enforcement protocols vary so much among communities, it is difficult to specifically answer your question.  If you are wondering what the policeMore response might be, I encourage you to call their non-emergency line during a calm time to get information on what you can expect from them.  We have a https://www.empoweringparents.com/article/how-to-talk-to-police-when-your-child-is-physically-abusive/ which can help to guide this conversation as well.  Keep in mind, though, that simply scaring your son probably isn’t going to be enough to change his behavior over the long-term.  For that to happen, I encourage you to help him https://www.empoweringparents.com/article/the-surprising-reason-for-bad-child-behavior-i-cant-solve-problems/ he can use instead of stealing.  Please be sure to write back and let us know how things are going for you and your family.  Take care.
  • Heatherkg
    This is my first time on here/ or posting anything. I and my husband have been reaising his children since they where 3 and 4. Their bio mother started using drugs and made horrible decision that she went to prison and did not see the children for 3 years andMore she now has 2 more children and is not consistent in seeing her children that live with me and their father. Our son is adhd and is under a doctor's care to take meds. He sees 2 counslors a week. Our son has been stealing and losing to us and anyone he needs from a young age. The counslors tell us it's because he learned at a young age that he needed to care for himself while in his bio mother's care. My husband I and his ex-wife get along very well and are working together to help our son. The counslors also say that our son just acts on impulse and that's why he does so much bad things. We have tried everything at this point we are so fusterated and angery with him. He steals from his family, his teachers younger children his friends, I and his father need help we love our son so much but it's taking a toll on all of us. Please someone help us. We want the best for our son
    • Heatherkg
      I forgot to mention that he is 10 years old now, if he sees something he wants he takes it. We have caught him so many times and have made him return the items or money back to the person's and the store. We even had him return the itemsMore pay for them with his money and have him throw the items away at the store. He cries and says he is sorry and that he will never do it again then he calls himself stupid but then he does it again the very next day
      • RebeccaW_ParentalSupport
        Heatherkg Stealing can be such a challenging issue to address, and I’m glad to see that you are working as a team with a counselor to help you address this behavior with your son.  I’m also glad to see that you are taking steps to ensure that he is notMore benefiting from the decision to steal by having him return stolen items and paying for things out of his own pocket.  Another component you might add in is having problem-solving conversations with your son after you have discovered that he has stolen, and talking about specific steps he can take to act differently the next time he feels tempted to steal.  You can find more tips on problem-solving conversations in https://www.empoweringparents.com/article/the-surprising-reason-for-bad-child-behavior-i-cant-solve-problems/.  Please be sure to write back and let us know how things are going for you and your family.  Take care.
  • Linda Mabrey

    I have gone through the article,

    This article going to help many parents.

    I am looking forward to see more article from you.

    Thank you

  • Parent issues
    My 20 year old son took over 3000 dollars out of my bank account what do I do please help?
    • RebeccaW_ParentalSupport

      Parent issues

      It can be so difficult to determine what you should do when your child is engaging in a behavior such as stealing from you.  Part of the reason for this is that parenting can be intensely emotional at times, and this emotion can cloud our judgment.  One technique that can be helpful is to think about how you would respond if it were someone other than your son who took the money from your account.  What would you do if it were a neighbor or a friend who did this?  The answer you arrive at should then apply to your son.  I hope this is helpful.  Take care.

      • elizwmuller
        That's fantastic advice, Rebecca! Thank you for taking the time to respond and offer your guidance. :)
  • RebeccaW_ParentalSupport
    AhmedIsmail1 We appreciate you writing in to Empowering Parents and sharing your story. I am sorry to hear about the current conflict between your brother and your father.  Because we are a website aimed at helping people become more effective parents, we are limited in the advice and suggestions weMore can give to those outside of a direct parenting role.  Another resource which might be more useful to you is the Boys Town National Hotline, which you can reach by calling 1-800-448-3000, 24/7. They have trained counselors who talk with kids, teens and young adults everyday about issues they are facing, and they can help you to look at your options and come up with a plan.  They also have options to communicate via text, email, and live chat which you can find on their website, http://www.yourlifeyourvoice.org/ We wish you the best going forward. Take care.
  • sereD
    My 15 year old son has taken my debit card, he's sneaking out of the house taking my car, and has taken money from me and my other son.  Last week, I noticed my wedding ring, my (deceased) husbands wedding band, and 2 other jewelry items missing but he isMore denying it.  He did admit to taking money, but not my jewelry.  I have changed the lock on my garage, and both me and my other son have locks on our bedroom doors.  Teachers, counselors, and the vice Principal are of no help. He was a B honor roll student last year, but failing every class this year.  I'm at a loss.....
    • IWillNotSeeReplies
      sereD Is it possible that drugs could be involved? If he is stealing jewelry and debit cards, then he is likely paying big money for something...... I suggest you check your debit card history, and see how much money he has spent with it.
  • RebeccaW_ParentalSupport


    I hear how challenging your daughter’s behavior has been for

    you, and I’m glad that you are reaching out for support.Even though you do not believe that she would

    follow through on it, I encourage you to take her threats of suicide seriously

    and develop a safety plan.If she is

    serious, then you have a plan that will keep her safe from harm.If she is making these statements in an

    effort to gain attention, or manipulate the situation, by following the plan

    you are letting her know that these statements are not going to help her

    achieve that.If you are not currently

    working with anyone, I encourage you to contact http://www.familylives.org.uk/ at 0808 800 2222 for

    assistance in developing a safety plan for your daughter.I recognize how difficult this must be for

    you right now, and I wish you and your family all the best moving forward.Take care.

  • lizrod1015
    My son will be 10 in 2 weeks. He had been stealing money from his great grandmother his grandmother and me for about 2 yrs. He steals the money to go to the store to buy junk food. I don't buy junk foo for my home because I am anMore overweight person and I feel we don't need it at home. I don't know what to do anymore. I do always throw it out. What do I do? Please help.
    • RebeccaW_ParentalSupport


      Stealing is such a challenging behavior for many families to

      address, so you are not alone.I’m glad

      to see that you are throwing the junk food away when you discover it.As pointed out in the article, it is

      important to ensure that a child does not benefit from a choice to steal.Something to keep in mind is that inappropriate

      behavior is often the https://www.empoweringparents.com/article/the-surprising-reason-for-bad-child-behavior-i-cant-solve-problems/.In

      other words, your son is likely stealing because he wants junk food and sees taking

      money as a way to get it.This does not

      mean that this behavior is acceptable, though.I encourage you to talk with your son during a calm time, and develop a

      plan for what he can do differently the next time he is tempted to take money.In addition, you and other members of your

      household might consider securing your money, at least until your son improves

      his self-control and problem-solving skills.I recognize how difficult this must be for you, and I hope that you will

      write back and let us know how things are going for you and your family.Take care.

  • Mo

    my 17 year old son's girlfriend was wearing a ring that I am missing.  I asked her where she got it since my husband gave me one just like it many years ago.  she said her mother gave it to her.

    I thought he had taken it to buy pot .  He said he didn't take it.

  • Gypsy Mama
    My 11 yr old step daughter has been caught stealing several times. She had stolen from 2 different gift shops while on field trips at school, money from my daughter and most recently she used her dads credit card online to buy squishies "silly lil collectable toys". I also believeMore she stole other items from my daughter but I have no proof and she denied it. She has absolutely everything a kid could want. Both her parents spoil her to death and do all kinds of fun things with her. Anyway, her mom thinks we need to keep her busy so she wont steal. My God we are doing family fun trips and fun things every weekend already! My opinion is "STOP BUYING HER EVERYTHING! and make her accountable for her actions!!!" They grounded her #NOT!. I say that because Taking her, IPADs x2,  IPHONE, Laptop, DS3, etc, is not grounding when you allow them to play the Wii and buy them stuff to keep them busy and go out to eat and golfing IS NOT GROUNDING in my opinion!!! I would never let my kids "i have raised 4" get off that easy. Am I wrong??????
    • Busybee411
      I am going thrrough the exact same thing shame that put of all the answered posts your is unanswered i wanted some advice to step daughter is 11 and stole my kids xmas gift when i caught her out she suddenly "found the item" after being pressed twice about itMore and gave it back told several stories to cover her tracks and even blamed my son who is 2 i'm disgusted and i want help.
    • MamaOf6
      Im with you Gypsy Mama...
  • Jaxster


    I have a 14 year old daughter who we have caught lying on several occasions about different things. Recently we caught her stealing money from us. Underwear was also appearing 

    which i confronted her about and she would say a friend gave it to her. this morning I cleaned out her room and there is bag full items which I've never seen before. I'm really not sure how to handle this. Many of the items are fancy under wear from the same store and are new. I look forward to hearing from you.

    • RebeccaW_ParentalSupport


      Lying and stealing are challenging issues for many parents

      to address, and you are not alone in this situation.  Because you do not

      know for certain whether your daughter stole these items, or if her friend did

      give them to her, I wouldn’t recommend giving her a consequence.  The

      reason being, if her friend actually did give her those, and you give her a

      consequence for stealing, it could do a lot of damage to your relationship with

      her.  Instead, I recommend talking with your daughter during a calm time,

      and set some limits moving forward.  For example, it might be that if a

      friend wants to give her clothing or other items in the future, it has to be

      approved by you first.  I recognize how difficult this must be for you,

      and I hope you will write back and let us know how things are going for you and

      your family.  Take care.

  • Tay361
    My 15 year old son stole my husband's work truck while we were in tha hospital with his grandfather who had a stroke I never thought my son would do that but he did an my husband almost lost his job because of it but no one could prove whoMore took tha truck so his boss gave him his job back 3 weeks later my kids get in an argument so my daughter decides to tell on my son should I report it to tha cops to teach my son a lesson I really don't know how to handle it because all I want to do is spank him alot with a belt my mom would have beat the crap out of me if I did that but I want to know tha right way tha positive way ..... help
    • RebeccaW_ParentalSupport


      I hear you, and I

      understand your anger and disappointment upon discovering that your son stole

      your husband’s work truck.  As Carole points out in the article above, calling

      the police is an option that is available to you to hold your son accountable

      for his actions, and ultimately, it is up to you whether you want to formally

      report this theft.  As James Lehman points out in his article, https://www.empoweringparents.com/article/why-is-my-child-stealing-and-what-can-i-do-advice-for-parents-on-kids-stealing-and-shoplifting/, whether you decide to report it or not, we recommend

      having a https://www.empoweringparents.com/article/the-surprising-reason-for-bad-child-behavior-i-cant-solve-problems/ with your son as well as determining how he will make amends

      to your husband.  We do not recommend spanking him or using other forms of

      corporal punishment because it will not teach him what to do differently in the

      future.  I recognize how difficult this situation must be for you and your

      family, and I wish all the best moving forward.  Take care.

      • Tay361
        RebeccaW_ParentalSupport Tay361 thank you
  • RebeccaW_ParentalSupport


    It can be so difficult when you watch your child continue to

    make poor decisions despite what you have modeled to him and tried to teach

    him.  As Carole points out in the article above, calling the police is an

    option available to you with your son continuing to take your credit

    cards.  I also understand that this is not a decision to be made lightly,

    and it’s one with which many parents struggle.  If it is an option you are

    considering, I encourage you to contact your local law enforcement agency

    during a calm time, and talk about what you might expect if you did call to

    report his actions.  We have a free downloadable worksheet which can guide

    this conversation; you can get a copy https://www.empoweringparents.com/article/how-to-talk-to-police-when-your-child-is-physically-abusive/. 

    In addition, if you are worried that your son might attempt suicide or

    otherwise try to harm himself, I encourage you to contact the http://www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org/ at 1-800-273-TALK (8255) to discuss your concerns and develop a

    plan to keep your son safe.  I recognize how difficult this must be for

    you and your family, and I wish you all the best moving forward.  Take


  • RebeccaW_ParentalSupport


    We appreciate you writing in to Empowering Parents and

    sharing your story. Because we are a website aimed at helping people become

    more effective parents, we are limited in the advice and suggestions we can

    give to those outside of a direct parenting role.  Another resource which

    might be more useful to you is the Boys Town National Hotline, which you can

    reach by calling 1-800-448-3000, 24/7. They have trained counselors who talk

    with kids, teens and young adults everyday about issues they are facing. 

    They also have options to communicate via chat, email, and live chat which you

    can find on their website, http://www.yourlifeyourvoice.org/

    We wish you the best going forward. Take care.

  • Tami

    My ten year old son has been stealing money from me in the past year. Not just a couple of dollars either. He has done it 3-4 times and each time it was about $60-$80. I thought we had it under control. He took the money to school and gave it to a friend to buy candy bars. We had our son do some yard work for friends of ours to pay us back. He had to do quite a bit of work over a period of a couple weeks. I also put a pad lock on my purse for a few months to make sure that he didn't do it again. We thought that he learned his lesson and I quit locking my purse up and he did fine for a long time. But then just yesterday he stole $70 from my purse. I don't know what else to do to get him to stop this problem. He also steals food from us, mostly candy. He is very sneaky and and searches for all of our hiding spots. We are beside ourselves to get this under control. Here is a little background on him. He has been diagnosed with ADHD, he seems to have impulse control issues with all the candy and money he steals, he has behavior/anger issues with authority. He struggles a lot in school, is immature for his age ect. Everytime he does something and we give him a consequence we think he's learned. He stops for a while and then it happens again. I don't know what else to do, but know that we need to get a handle on it now before he gets older and it gets worse. Please help me know what to do. I wonder if he needs something that really scares him into never doing it again, like police involvement in some form.

    Thank you,


    • elizwmuller

      @Tami Hi, Tami- My daughter is 15 and has been doing the same thing for years. I've seen it ramp up from stealing my make-up, my nail polish, tons of candy, markers from teachers at school, white-out from other students, her siblings' allowance, and now $ directly from my wallet and my piggy-bank on my dresser. She denies it at first, and then ultimately admits it. I lose my cool and tell her that the choices she's making are putting her on a bad path, and beginning to define who she is. Apparently, according to the article above, I shouldn't be saying those things. 

      We have removed all those items and hidden them in our garage, and now it looks like I'll have to start locking up my $. I never thought I'd have these problems and my other two kids are equally mind-boggled and upset. Negative consequences like grounding her never seem to work and I can't get her to follow thru on payback b/c she's really incompetent with chores. I've tried guilting her and it seems to work in the short term but then she goes right back to her sneaky ways. She also suffers severe ADD and impulse control. I don't know what to do! She already sees a therapist and is already on ADD meds, but obviously they're not working. The therapist suggested we give her more freedoms with $, and all that's done is allow her to use her "allowance" for candy purchases and she's still stealing! Can you tell me if you've come up with any solutions? Just know you're not alone...I'm so worried she's going to end up becoming a real criminal and getting arrested!

    • RebeccaW_ParentalSupport


      Stealing is such a challenging behavior which many kids

      exhibit.  I speak with many parents who describe similar situations where

      a child was caught stealing, given consequences, yet still continues to steal

      when the opportunity presents itself.  You are not alone!  Something

      to consider is that simply giving your son consequences is not likely to change

      this pattern, and finding more severe ways to punish him or scare him isn’t

      necessarily going to be more effective.  This is because consequences

      alone do not teach kids what to do differently next time.  Instead, it’s

      going to be more useful to have a https://www.empoweringparents.com/article/the-surprising-reason-for-bad-child-behavior-i-cant-solve-problems/ in which you discuss what was going on right before he decided

      to steal, and to come up with a specific plan for how he can handle similar

      situations differently in the future.  I recognize how frustrating this

      must be for you.  Please let us know if you have any additional questions. 

      Take care.

  • pixiedustlust


    I had an incident yesterday where I think my cousins daughter stole some money from my son. I class her as my niece as we are all so close. My son is 6 and my niece is 9. They get on great and there have never been any problems.

    Yesterday we all went out to the park but my son became very poorly and desperately wanted to go home as he felt so bad. This caused my niece to be a little annoyed as she wanted to stay at the park. 

    We all went back to mine and my son and niece went to play in his bedroom. My cousin and I had a cup of tea whilst the children played and they played fine. No problems. They left after an hour or so. 

    When my son and I woke this morning he said he would like to go into town and have a look around. He still had 3 pounds left over from the tooth fairy last week so I thought he could put it towards something. When I went to his bedroom to get his money from the top of his bedside table there was only 1 pound coin left. I asked my son if he had moved the money and he said no. I do believe him as he has no reason to lie and he was quite upset when he realized the rest of his tooth fairy money was missing. My son is always giving my niece things like little toys and pencils. He is very kind and loves to share his things with her. I asked if he had given her any of his money but he said no because he was saving it for a game.

    I know it's only 2 pound but that's not the point. It's  the fact it was his first tooth and he was over the moon the tooth fairy had finally visited and left him money. I cannot say she definitely took itbecause I did not watch her take it, but it was there before she came and this morning we realized it was gone and she was the only person who had been in his bedroom. I don't know wat to do. I don't want to tell my cousin as I almost feel embarrassed to say anything. But should I tell her so she knows what's going on?

    Please help I'm so unsure ?

    • RebeccaW_ParentalSupport


      I hear you.  It can

      be very challenging to know how to address a situation when it is someone other

      than your own child who may have acted inappropriately.  As Carole points

      out in the article above, it’s not recommended to give your niece consequences

      or to confront your cousin about this because you don’t know for certain what

      happened.  Instead, it could be most effective to focus on your own

      actions instead, because that is something that you can control.  For

      example, you might take steps to ensure that money is not left out in the open

      when people come over to your house in order to limit the opportunity anyone

      has to take it, or you might talk with your son about the importance of keeping

      money or other valuables out of plain sight.  I recognize how difficult

      this must be for you, and I hope you will check back and let us know how things

      are going for you and your family.  Take care.

  • Michele
    We have been going through these same issues at my home. My 9yo daughter is constantly taking things or getting into things that are not hers. At first it was just makeup, my lipstick or something would go missing. Then it was her stepmother's jewelry. A few months ago IMore caught her taking money from my wallet and walking to the nearby gas station to buy junk food. She has since stopped stealing money, but she's still getting into my makeup. She goes into my room and rummages around when I'm not home. I now have to lock all my makeup in a cabinet. She found the key and got into it again. And she always lies/denies about what she's doing/has done. She has been in counseling for about 6 months and it doesn't seem to be helping. When my boyfriend moved in over a year ago, she went through all his stuff. She literally has no boundaries when it comes to other peoples property. The counselor suggested taking things away from her that she likes to do, but all she does is gymnastics once a week for 6 weeks at a time.  When we confront her about these things, she runs to her room, so being in her room isn't even a punishment because she does that herself. She does not have friends in the neighborhood that she plays with. We are at a loss.
    • RebeccaW_ParentalSupport


      When you have a child who does not respect other people’s

      boundaries or personal property, it can be very challenging.  You are not

      alone.  Something to keep in mind is that simply giving your daughter

      consequences for stealing makeup and other items is probably not going to

      resolve this issue.  This is due to the fact that consequences are not

      going to teach her what to do differently the next time she is tempted to go

      through someone’s belongings, or take something that doesn’t belong to

      her.  It could be helpful to have a https://www.empoweringparents.com/article/the-surprising-reason-for-bad-child-behavior-i-cant-solve-problems/ with her which outlines specific strategies she can use to

      avoid stealing in the future.  In addition, as Carole notes in the article

      above, we do not recommend giving your daughter consequences if you are not

      100% certain that she actually took an item.  Instead, it can be more

      helpful to reduce the opportunity she has to take items that are not hers, as

      you have been doing with your makeup.  I recognize that this is not an

      easy situation to be in, and I wish you all the best moving forward.  Take


  • Angelica
    I have a niece who is 19 , she stole jewels from my house and when i called her she denied first then she literally she agreed she had sold off the jewels and the reason was she crushed her friends car, she was afraid to tell her parentsMore so she did it it seems , it really made mw worried , i have lose 6k worth of jewels , and recently she tried taking 800 cash from my daughter but we caught her , she didnt tell anything , but she took away a chain and sold it off , when i found out , she said she lost her prefect money so she had to pay back , that is why she did , how is this gonna solve my problem with lost off jewels and she choosing a wrong way to solve her problems , i didnt tell her parents because they are apart
  • Patricia Grubbs


    I have a 12 year old son who stole money last summer from my husband (his dad).  It was a pretty good about, i believe it was at least $200, in addition to several gift cards he stole from his siblings.  We gave him consequences and made him return his remaining gift cards to the rightful owners.  Much of what he spent the money on, as far as we know, was spent on snacks and food, and not anything more that could be returned.  Today, my husband was missing $40 and my other sone was missing $20.  We called my 12 year old in to the room and asked him if he had anything to tell us.  He did confess to stealing money from both his dad and brother, initially argued that it was only $20 taken from his dad and insisted it was only $20, but when we counted what he had left it didn't add up (he had $10 left).  He immediately started crying after he admitted it and said he didn't know why he does that and he was very sorry.  We are pretty upset, especially after last summer, and worried about our son and his behavior.  I honestly do not know how to proceed, as lying is a big problem with this child and it happens often.  He also is at the forefront  of most fights between his siblings.  I would appreciate any advice you have to give. 

    Thank you and Sincerely,


    • RebeccaW_ParentalSupport

      Patricia Grubbs 

      Stealing is a troubling, yet common behavior for many kids

      your son’s age; you are not alone.  As Carole Banks points out in the

      article above, kids frequently use stealing as a faulty way to solve some kind

      of problem.  Therefore, it can be useful to have a https://www.empoweringparents.com/article/the-surprising-reason-for-bad-child-behavior-i-cant-solve-problems/ with him during a calm time about his choice to steal: what

      was going on right before he chose to take the money?  What other choices

      can he make if he is in a similar situation in the future?  I also

      recommend having him repay the money he took, even if he has already spent it

      on items that cannot be returned.  In this way, he is not benefitting from

      his choice to steal.  For example, he could do his brother’s chores for a

      certain period of time to work off the money taken from him, or do extra work

      around the house to repay his dad.  I recognize what a challenging

      situation this can be, and I appreciate your reaching out for support. 

      Please let us know if you have any additional questions.  Take care.

  • RebeccaW_ParentalSupport


    It sounds like your family has been through quite a bit

    lately, between the loss of your family member and your daughter’s

    actions.  It’s good that you’re here and reaching out for support. 

    I’m glad to hear that your daughter is working with someone locally who can

    help her to learn safer and more appropriate coping skills she can use when she

    is upset.  I also recommend that you work with her therapist to develop a

    plan you can implement to keep her safe if she continues to engage in dangerous

    or self-harming behavior.  I also hope that you are taking care of

    yourself at this time.  Self-care is an important part of parenting which

    is often overlooked.  Taking care of yourself can take many forms, from

    engaging in an activity you enjoy, to using more structured supports, such as

    counseling or a support group.  Your daughter’s counselor might be able to

    inform you of services available to you in your area if you are

    interested.  I recognize how challenging this must be for you right now,

    and I wish you and your family all the best as you continue to move

    forward.  Take care.

  • Samb22


    My mom is mentally unwell. Since I started work my brother had responsibility of my mother's finances (card ). Anything my mother needs to be honest I pay for with my own money inc house bills etc. So her card should be untouched really, except for when she needs something she doesnt want me to pay for. I just ordered a bank statement and it looks like he has taken money from her everyday for the past months. Around 6 - 7 thousand.

    I'm so angry because this previously happened with older siblings in my family. Who would rinse my mom. (I couldnt do much back then because I was a lil kid). That's the main reason I let THIS brother have the card when I startrd full time work so he can protect it, protect her. I did not expect this from him at all. But looks like he has been doing exactly the same thing the others did. I am so angry that he could take advantage of my mother's situation like this. I just want to kick him out of the house on her behalf because she doesn't deserve it.

    Even though my mother doesn't understand much I still had to tell her that all her money is gone because it is her money. She seemed to understand a little as she looked sad and disappointed when I told her. But she went silent and as usuall is mentally incapable of dealing with these things.

    There are no older cousins or close friends of families that I can trust enough to help me confront ny brother about this. And I need to confront him because she can't. I've never had to do such a thing as I am the youngest. So I need help. May seem silly but How can I start the conversation off and what questions can I ask without making him feel cornered. And what if he denies it. Should I or shouldn't I get the other older siblings involved considering they did exactly the same thing as him and probably would still if they had the chance.

    I won't do the above unroll I get a response, hopefully asap.

    Thank You


    • RebeccaW_ParentalSupport


      We appreciate you writing in to Empowering Parents and

      sharing your story.  I am so sorry to hear about the current situation you

      are facing with your brother, and your mother’s finances. Because we are a

      website aimed at helping people become more effective parents, we are limited

      in the advice and suggestions we can give to those outside of a direct

      parenting role. It may be helpful to look into local resources to help you develop

      a plan for addressing your particular questions. One resource that might be

      helpful is http://www.familylives.org.uk/, which you

      can reach by calling 0808 800 2222.  They might be able to talk with you

      about what is going on in your family, and talk through your options.  We

      wish you the best going forward. Take care.

  • RebeccaW_ParentalSupport


    We appreciate you writing in to Empowering Parents and

    sharing your story.  I hear how much you care about and love your brother,

    and want him to stay safe and don’t want him to leave your home. Because we are

    a website aimed at helping people become more effective parents, we are limited

    in the advice and suggestions we can give to those outside of a direct

    parenting role. It may be helpful to look into local resources to help you

    develop a plan for addressing your particular issues. One that might be

    beneficial to you is the Kids Help Phone service.  They offer free,

    confidential 24/7 phone and web counseling, which you can reach by calling

    1-800-668-6868 or by visiting http://www.kidshelpphone.ca 

    When you reach out, you will be connected with a counselor who will listen and

    help you look at your options in this situation. We wish you the

    best going forward. Take care.

  • RebeccaW_ParentalSupport


    I hear you.  On one hand, you want to give your

    daughter consequences for her choice to steal money from you.  On the

    other, you want to keep her safe, and do not want her to self-harm.  We

    would not recommend taking away the college courses from your daughter, because

    that sounds like a positive step for her, and it is not going to teach her what

    to do differently the next time she is tempted to take money that does not

    belong to her.  If you are not already doing so, I encourage you to work

    with local resources, such as a counselor or therapist, who can help you to

    develop a plan to hold your daughter accountable while keeping her safe. 

    If you need assistance finding someone in your community, try contacting the http://www.211.org/ at 1-800-273-6222.  I

    recognize how tough this situation is for you, and I wish you and your family

    all the best.  Take care.

  • Whitsend
    I have 2 step children. A step daughter who is 13 and a 19 year old step son . My step daughter has taken things from me since the beginning of my marriage to her father. Her father believes that talking with her is enough,More no consequences are necessary. She is now taking items and he questions her, she now lies because she has done it so much! I have found the items, if I confront her about it, she throws a huge temper tantrum and threatens she will no longer live in our home. My husband always backs down and becomes angry with me for confronting her. Now, it has been discovered that his son has taken a large sum of money, I asked what is he going to do? Well, he says he is going to ask him to pay it back! I am very upset with the way he lets them get by with this behavior. However, they are not my children. What can I do? He tells me we have a difference of opinion on ways of disciplining children, whenever I try to talk with him about it. I am afraid to leave my home. I think they will take whatever they want!
    • RebeccaW_ParentalSupport


      It’s quite common

      for parents to have differences in opinion over how to address problematic

      behavior, and effective discipline techniques.  When you are a co-parent

      of stepchildren, it can become even more challenging to overcome these

      differences.  As James Lehman advises in https://www.empoweringparents.com/article/my-blended-family-wont-blend-help-part-i-how-you-and-your-spouse-can-get-on-the-same-page/, it is important for you and your husband to communicate

      during a calm time about how to address these issues, so you can present a

      united front to your stepchildren.  If you are having difficulty finding

      common ground, it can sometimes be beneficial to involve a neutral third-party,

      such as a marriage and family counselor experienced in working with blended

      families, to help you sort through these issues.  For assistance locating

      resources in your community, try contacting the http://www.211.org/ at 1-800-273-6222. Please be sure to write back and let us know

      how things are going.  Take care.

  • Trish
    My 11 year old son took a cell phone from his father's house without asking. He got caught with it at school and it was taken away from. He then lied to me and his teachers by saying the phone belonged to his friend and that he was going toMore take it home and charge it for him because he had lost his charger. I did not feel comfortable with my son having the phone and left it with the teacher to return to the parent. That's when the whole truth came out. We've decided not to let him play soccer this season. Any other suggestions?
    • Marissa EP


      Hi, thanks for reaching out to Empowering Parents with your

      question.It can be frustrating and

      upsetting when kids take things that don’t belong to them, and then use the

      faulty problem solving skill of lying to try to cover it up. There are a couple

      of ways you can address this behavior with your son, but taking soccer away is

      not something we would recommend, as that is a pretty big consequence for one poor

      choice. It doesn’t serve to help him learn the correct behavior you want to see

      from him, and can create opportunities for additional behaviors and resentment.

      Janet Lehman, co-creator of our https://www.empoweringparents.com/product/total-transformation-program/ program, has a great article called, https://www.empoweringparents.com/article/i-caught-my-child-lying-how-to-manage-sneaky-behavior-in-kids/, where she addresses

      the issue of stealing and why kids lie, as well as how to hold them accountable

      for their poor choices in a way that is effective. Please let us know if you

      have any more questions!

  • DD
    I have an eleven year old grand daughter that constantly steals food and items from home.  I recently found out that money has been going missing from my purse and mentioned it to her parents.  Her step father went into her room and found money as well as other thingsMore that she has stolen.  Snacks have been locked in a cupboard, she has stolen and eaten her little brother Easter candy.  She has taken the vehicle keys and gone into the vehicles and stolen snacks and other things from the vehicles that were purposely put there to keep from her.  Her parents have been constant in grounding her from leaving the house and going places that she wants to go and she retaliates with full blown temper tantrums and she is a big girl because of the food that she constantly eats and steals to eat.  Her parents and I are at a lose as to what to do to stop her from stealing and disrupting the family on a continuous base.  We have thought of calling the police to have an officer come and talk with her  but the police would think us as bad adults because we cannot stop her habits.  Her other grand parents allow her to do and take anything that she wants and she easy manipulate them into do so.  What do we do to stop this behaviour and get the whole family on board to help my grand daughter.
    • RebeccaW_ParentalSupport


      Stealing is a

      troublesome issue for many families, and many parents and grandparents struggle

      to address it effectively.  As James Lehman points out in his article, https://www.empoweringparents.com/article/why-is-my-child-stealing-and-what-can-i-do-advice-for-parents-on-kids-stealing-and-shoplifting/, it tends to be most effective when the consequences for

      stealing are paired with a discussion about your granddaughter’s choice to

      steal, and what she can do differently moving forward.  In addition, as

      you mentioned that food is a frequently targeted item, I also encourage you to

      check in with her doctor to rule out any underlying concerns which might be

      contributing to this behavior.  I recognize how challenging this must be

      for all of you, and I hope that you will check back and let us know how things

      are going.  Take care.

  • abqdragon
    Thank you for the well written article. I just encountered this situation today, where my 10 year old sister was found out for stealing my mother's credit card last year and racking up over $1000 in charges between physical and digital items from Amazon. We were able to get theMore accounts closed, and Amazon was able to initiate returns on the majority of the items. My sister now has a weekly chore list to give her a cash allowance, minus a percentage to slowly pay them back. Anything else you'd recommend?
    • RebeccaW_ParentalSupport


      I hear how much you want your sister to learn from her

      choices.  Because our site is designed for parents who are experiencing

      behavior issues with a child, we are limited with the suggestions we can offer

      to you for your sibling.  Another resource which could be more helpful is

      the Boys Town National Hotline.  Their staff are better able to answer

      questions which arise for teens and young adults in their families, and could

      talk with you about your options for how you can help your sister.  You

      can call 24/7 at 1-800-448-3000, or visit their website at http://www.yourlifeyourvoice.org/.  They

      also offer chat, text and email options for support through their

      website.  Thank you for the kind words about our article, and I wish you

      and your family all the best. Take care.

      • abqdragon
        RebeccaW_ParentalSupport  Thank you for the quick reply. She is my sister by adoption. I help with her parenting, being over 20 years older than her and her adoptive parents aren't always able to understand or deal with the issues that come up.
  • ammatallah

    My 10 year old son spent almost 300 $ as in app purchases on his mobile using my debt card. They were facebook games.

    How should i deal with to prevent this happening again.?

    I took his mobile and deactivated his facebook account.

    • Darlene EP


      Stealing is a tough situation to

      deal with. It is understandable you are looking for ways to avoid it from

      happening again. As Carole Banks points out in the above article, it is best to

      focus on problem solving and alternative ways your son can handle a situation

      in the future when he wants something but does not have the money to buy it.

      Carole also recommends you have your son make amends to you for stealing from

      you. You could have him do some extra chores around the house as a way to make

      it up to you. Taking away his privileges indefinitely is not going to change

      his behavior, but helping him develop better ways to solve his problem will. I

      hope this helps to answer your question. Thank you for writing in.

  • Wja
    My husband said that he is missing $40 from his wallet. He says it was my 10 year-old son that took it. But when I asked him if he took the money he says he did not take it. So I checked his clothing I checked his book bag andMore I did not find it. I don't know what to do I don't know if you did take it or not.
    • Marissa EP


      Hi there! Thanks for writing in with your question! Because

      you don’t have proof that your son took any money from your husband’s wallet,

      there is not much else you can do. The reality is that there is a chance your

      son did not take the money at all, and accusing him of such without proof can

      be damaging to your relationship with him. Going forward, it can be helpful to

      make sure wallets, purses and other valuables are locked away in a safe place

      to reduce the risk of missing money, in the event your son did take the

      money.  At a calm, neutral time, you may also remind everyone in the home

      about your rules against taking things that don’t belong to them, without

      permission. Best of luck to you and your family going forward!

  • angrybutsorrowful
    Hi, My Little Brother has been having issues with stealing, he is thirteen and I am 26 and on my own. I had him over as a guest and he has been the only one this entire year as I have just graduated from college. Being so busy with workMore and college has left me semi organized. I just cleaned up my house and found that my left over loan money of $500 is missing. I ask my Spouse and he doesn't know where it is, and i am Certain I left it under the mattress to repay back later. I suspect My little brother because He has just been to the hospital with a manic attack to rule out drug usage. We now suspect that He has bipolar one instead of ADHD. As a graduate in special education, I know that stealing could be seen as an impulse issue, or coping mechanism. My Problem is he is family and he is the only one who could have taken it. My mother says he has been stealing household money and buying things that are more than what he has of his own money. How do I confront Him? Get that money back, and not cry at being betrayed. It sounds selfish, but i would rather have the money then have to deal with the troubles he is going through. I am not his parent.
  • sunmaid

    My 25 year old son took $500 and admitted it when I confronted him about it. I also found out he flunked 4 of his 5 subjects this semester when he was supposed to be graduating from college. In the past he has lied about a lot of things like what time he gets home and where he goes. He denies he's into drugs but that could be a lie, too.

         I feel deeply saddened by the choices he makes and pray there is hope for him and he can still turn his life around. I already set my boundaries with him and if he steals from me or his father and brothers then he's not welcome to live with us anymore. 

         Is there hope for adult children like him? Are there those who were able to change for the better and live productive lives?

  • Melcat
    I have a 10 yr old daughter who stole $200 out of my jewelry box and handed it out to her friends. Her punishment is no Dance class this is what she loves the most but somehow I feel this punishment isn't enough. Do you have any suggestions? Also whenMore I asked her why she did it she says she don't know.
    • DeniseR_ParentalSupport


      How upsetting this must have been for you. I can understand

      your desire to hold her accountable for taking such a large sum of money.

      Removing dance lessons as a way of holding her accountable is one option.

      Taking something away indefinitely or forever usually doesn’t have the impact

      we think it will. In all honesty, you can’t punish a child into better

      behavior.  A more effective approach might be allowing her to earn dance

      lessons back by making amends. This could be done in several ways. In your

      particular situation, you might have her complete extra chores around the house

      as a way of paying back the money she owes. You could also withhold a certain

      number of lessons, however many as would equal $200, as a way of paying back

      the money is another option. What’s going to be even more important than

      holding her accountable is helping her develop better problem solving skills.

      While I can’t say what the exact motivation was for taking the money,

      considering she gave the money away to her classmates makes me think she may

      have done it as a way to gain friends or make the other kids like her more. As

      adults, we realize you can’t really “buy” friends. At 10, your daughter

      probably wasn’t seeing it from the same perspective. It may be beneficial to

      sit down with her again and talk about the situation, only instead of asking

      her why, ask her what she was thinking before she took the money or when she

      was giving it to her friends. This may help you get to the faulty thinking that

      was behind your daughter’s choice. For more information on how to have a

      problem solving conversation with your daughter, check out the article https://www.empoweringparents.com/article/the-surprising-reason-for-bad-child-behavior-i-cant-solve-problems/. Best of

      luck to you and your daughter as you work through this issue. Take care.

  • Jbbza
    I have a 16 1/2 year old daughter who is constantly lying and stealing. This behavior is very draining. She's the oldest of 4 girls and one boy. She has run away, stole money, hit me and her sisters. She constantly lies and says we ( my husband and IMore )hit her causing several CPS investigations. Thank God the truth always prevails and to this day I've never had an actual open case. I am at my wit's end. The law seems to always be on the child's side and never takes in consideration the nightmare it is to try to get through day by day dealing with constant disrespect. What can I do?
    • DeniseR_ParentalSupport


      You certainly have a lot on your plate trying to manage and

      address all of these behaviors. It would probably be most effective to pick one

      behavior to focus on at a time. Quite truthfully, it’s not going to be possible

      to deal with everything all at once and trying to do so will probably cause

      you, and your daughter, to feel overwhelmed. Carole Banks has some great tips

      for how to decide where to start in her article https://www.empoweringparents.com/article/my-childs-behavior-is-so-bad-where-do-i-begin-how-to-coach-your-child-forward/.

      Another article you may find helpful is https://www.empoweringparents.com/article/in-over-your-head-how-to-improve-your-childs-behavior-and-regain-control-as-a-parent/. It may also be of benefit to find out if there are any community

      resources available to offer you and your family additional support. The 211

      Helpline would be able to give you information on services such as family

      counseling, parent support groups, respite care, and other programs. You can

      reach the Helpline 24 hours a day by calling 1-800-273-6222 or by going online

      to http://www.211.org/. We wish you the best of luck

      moving forward. Take care.

  • jaelinsmyworld
    I am a single mother to a 8 year old son who is consistently stealing, and usually it's food related items such as candy, junk food, drinks. He has been diagnosed with ADHD, but is not on medication. I work for my church, and therefore are very involved in activitiesMore with the church and learning about God and the Bible. Therefore he knows that this behavior is not acceptable. I'm getting very frustrated, not sure what to do any more. I have spanked, taken privileges away, kept him from outtings, made him spend his money to replace items, time out, etc. I have no idea how to handle this anymore as he is now taking things from people at school. Any suggestions?
    • DeniseR_ParentalSupport


      I can understand your frustration. It can be tough to know

      what to do when your child continues to behave in a way that goes against your

      family values. I think it can be helpful to recognize that stealing isn’t a

      moral issue or a character flaw – it’s a reflection of poor problem solving

      skills. And while your son may know that the behavior is wrong, he hasn’t yet

      developed more appropriate ways of solving the problem of wanting something

      that belongs to someone else. As Carole Banks points out in the above article,

      helping your son develop better problem solving skills is going to be an

      important step in managing this behavior. For more information on how to have a

      problem solving conversation with your son you can check out the article https://www.empoweringparents.com/article/the-surprising-reason-for-bad-child-behavior-i-cant-solve-problems/.

       Another article you may find helpful is https://www.empoweringparents.com/article/i-caught-my-child-lying-how-to-manage-sneaky-behavior-in-kids/. We

      appreciate you writing in and sharing your story. Take care.

  • Currivan
    my 12 year old son has stolen from us twice in the last few months, once it was 25 euro and this morning, 55 euro.... His reason is 'because I don't get pocket money' we give him pocket money when he merits it and in fact he was given someMore money a few days ago to spend on some treats. This is the boy who has a pretty comfortable life.. we travel to nice places and he gets a lot of nice things from us and the family, so he is by no means hard done by. He is also an amazing liar and as a result is seeing a psychologist, who says we need to have more trust in him, give him more freedom as a reward and to give him the occasional money for himself, to prove that we trust him etc. My son is very fond of saying he is so sorry and 'can we start over' but his behaviour continues.. I am at my wits end and do not know what more we can do... he has had his tablet/Ipod taken so many times and has been sent to his room etc. but it makes NO difference whatsoever. He is a good kid on the inside, has a big kind heart, but this behaviour is making me feel so resentful and angry towards him... please help..
    • DeniseR_ParentalSupport


      Stealing is one of the behaviors that can cause a lot of

      anger and distress. Many parents wonder what they can do to address the

      behavior, and hold their child accountable, especially when it doesn’t seem as

      though consequences have any effect. It may help to know that for most kids

      stealing is directly related to poor problem solving skills. Your son sees something he

      wants and, lacking the impulse control or ability to plan for a way to get it,

      he steals from you. While the behavior certainly isn’t OK, it also isn’t that

      uncommon. The above article offers some great tips for addressing this

      worrisome behavior. Another article you may find helpful is https://www.empoweringparents.com/article/i-caught-my-child-lying-how-to-manage-sneaky-behavior-in-kids/. It’s also

      going to be important to continue working closely with your son’s psychologist

      as he knows your son and is in a much better position to determine an

      appropriate course of action. We appreciate you writing in. Take care.

  • Luna35
    Hi, my 15-year-old was with a friend who steals and my kid went along with it.  They were caught before they ever left the store.  I am still sitting on the punishment because her step-dad and I do not agree.  I think 4 weeks without a phone and coming homeMore straight after school is sufficient- he also thinks she should not be aloud to go to Prom which is about 4 to 5 weeks away...  Any tips or suggestions?  I do not want to go against him, but I also think this is too harsh- she has never stolen before and I think her experience will make it unlikely to do again...  Thanks!
    • DeniseR_ParentalSupport


      You ask a question we hear often at this time of year,

      should a parent use the Prom as a consequence? The quick answer to that

      question is no. In order for a consequence to have an impact on future

      behavior, it needs to be something the child can earn back by making better

      choices in the future. Using special events or occasions as consequences rarely

      works to turn behavior around and often will result in resentment. You may find

      these articles useful for deciding what an appropriate consequence might be: https://www.empoweringparents.com/article/using-consequences-to-maintain-your-parental-authority/ & https://www.empoweringparents.com/article/kids-who-ignore-consequences-10-ways-to-make-them-stick/. I hope this helps to

      answer your question. Take care.

      • Luna35

        DeniseR_ParentalSupport Luna35

        Thank you so much!!

  • Meapea
    Hi.. I have an 11 yr old son and I just caught him stealing red handed, but been wondering why my purse always short on funds. Money missing all the time at home and he always denied it until today. I saw him at the back of the house talkingMore to kids about money and he was about to handed out 500 pesos. That's a lot of money here then later on that day after we caught some kids from other side of the fence, they said that they also took Foreign Currencies like Dollars...So then we check and found that we lost 1,500 US Dollars.and a lot of pesos.. Rough estimate is 2,700 US Dollars.I took them to the police and now still the investigation is on going.. I am real disappointed I don't know how to feel, as we really look after our son the best we can, provide him only the best home,clothes education etc. Me and my husband always try to make a happy loving environment for him. We just don't know why its still not enough for him to Steal and lie so much to us..Please help me understand where did we go wrong...Thank you
    • DeniseR_ParentalSupport


      Many parents wonder what they did wrong when their child

      acts out. As Kim Abraham and Marney Studaker-Cordner explain in their article https://www.empoweringparents.com/article/parenting-truth-you-are-not-to-blame-for-your-childs-behavior/#lf-content=36684174:490119954, you’re not

      responsible for the choices your child makes. From what you have written, it

      sounds like there most likely will be natural consequences for the choice your

      son made to steal. The most effective thing you can do at this point is allow

      those natural consequences to occur. I know that may be tough to do but

      rescuing a child from the natural consequences of his choices doesn’t allow him

      to feel the discomfort of those poor choices. I hope this situation is resolved

      quickly. Best of luck to you and your family moving forward. Take care.

  • I Need Help
    I am asking! Since I have a 11 year old son and he bought an xbox without my permission, and I didnt know, I asked the bank to track down who it was, can he go to jail? I cant find any answers..
    • DeniseR_ParentalSupport

      @I Need Help

      I’m sorry to hear your son bought an Xbox without your

      permission. I’m not sure what the legal consequences might be in this case. It

      may be helpful to speak with someone who is aware of the laws and procedures in

      your area. Your local Clerk of Courts or police department might be able to

      answer this question. You could also speak with legal counsel. The 211 Helpline

      would be able to give you information on legal resources in your area. You can

      reach the Helpline 24 hours a day by calling 1-800-273-6222. You can also find

      them online at http://www.211.org/. Good luck to you and

      your son moving forward. Take care.

  • Cats
    My son 25 years old. Single no kids. Using drugs and steal alot t home. A court case running. I throw him out because its nit the first tine. My heart broken and i want to help him but at moment cant take him back home. Please give advuce.
    • DeniseR_ParentalSupport


      I can hear how much you want to help your son. However,

      you’re also aware of your own limits and boundaries. It can be heartbreaking to

      watch someone you love make such poor choices. Unfortunately, those choices can

      have a negative impact on those around your son, including you. It’s

      understandable you would be reluctant to have your son move back into your home.

      The bottom line is your son is now an adult and he is where he is because of

      the choices he has made. As tough as it may be to let him deal with the

      consequences of those choices, setting limits that help you maintain your

      boundaries is probably the best course of action in this situation. Hang in

      there. I know this is a hard place to be as a parent. Best of luck to you and

      your son moving

      forward. Take care.

  • Shavone

    My daughter is 8 and we have been staying with my boyfriend for the past 6 months. She a very caring, respectful, helpful and lovely young lady. But for the last couple of weeks my boyfriend noticed he was missing $20. He just thought he miss counted money. Then last night he was missing another $20. Now we where getting concerned. We thought another adult stole the money. Until last that night I checked her wallet and $40 was in there. We spoke with her and she said she was jealous my boyfriend's daughter had more money then her and she was holding it to show her and that she wasn't going to spend it. I let her know how upset and disappointed we where in her and made her apologize to my boyfriend. Now my boyfriend says he is not mad and does not think any less of her. I just don't know what to do next and what her punishment or make up to him should be.

    Very very sad Mother ?

  • kt453
    My 12yr old daughter has stolen £40 out my purse when I spoke to her she said she spent it in the canteen at school how does ant one spend £40.00 in one day or even £20. Each day as I only noticed 2 day the money went missing IMore thought I has miss counted but I counted all my penny's. And 10ps and 5ps and all the ten ps went there was 20.00 in 10p then I counted my purse last night which was 65.00 then this morning after she left for school I only had 45.00 don't know what to do all she keeps.saying is she spent it in the canteen
  • me

    My son stole keys. Lots of them. I found a set with a name tag and number. I rang the number.  The owner had lost his job after the apartments he minded were broken into.  He called to my house and asked me to report the incident to clear his name. I did this. My son was on CCTV with his friends. The police gave my son a caution with myself present. I didn't bring him up to behave as he did that day. He was as rude and "stupid" in his manner as he could manage to make out it was ultimately my fault. Damages needed to be paid as they had trashed the vacant apartment and as he was under 18 the cost fell to me. Himself and his friends were already stealing from me whilst I was out working. 

    He rarely attended school although I drove him there (often with his friends who I'd have fed breakfast to). He'd walk out as soon as I drove off.The police would call, tell me to collect him from the station.I'd leave work and collect him, he'd jump out at the first junction or hit me. The school called in the social services who appointed him a worker. I had changed the locks on the house to stop me being burgled every day but they insisted I give the keys back to him. I had to work. They went through everything. Stuck chewing gum above the headboard in every bedroom. 

    I was young when I had him to a very abusive man I thought loved me.It took me 3 years to escape this man and I told no lies when he was given no access or parental responsibility for my son. This is the man that tried to drown him in the bath at 6 weeks old, never mind what he did to me. I got out, moved country, got a job, house, car, traveled many countries with my son and supported us fully.I hadn't banked on there being facebook. I don't do facebook etc.I thankfully met my life partner (the one that you have to wait for).We set up home and put my son into his chosen college course which he left within 2 weeks.We offered him a job within the company, driving lessons,a car. We told him on his 18th birthday that if he wouldn't help us he would have to go (money provided via birthday for flat).He moved in with foreign girls for a while. Told them he was an alcoholic that needed help(he couldn't drink a pint).I constantly got calls for money. The answer was work for it and I'll give it to you.He returned to the area and again I offered his bed in return for help. He visited me for a weekend with a girlfriend.I felt sorry for her, like looking at myself with his father.He rang me a week later saying he was getting new "stuff". I asked him how he could afford it.He said he'd been smart.My partner came in at this moment to tell me he needed me to look at something. There on the PC was an article published by a leading national newspaper and a podcast of an interview on the local radio.My son had signed on to indigogo(an american donations site)and in order to get as much publicity to his cause had contacted the media. 32,000 people read my son's story before I had it taken down. Thousands left terrible comments about me. The radio station broadcast the 20min interview twice and released a podcast. He said I'd made him homeless at 15 and how he slept under bridges etc. and would have attended school etc. if he could have done. All his life he got away with playing the victim at my expense - without me even knowing.Do you know how many expensive clothes I put on his back, how I gave him what he wanted/needed?And even now I don't begrudge him that as that's what I needed to do for me.He knew my weaknesses as I knew his. Having been manipulated I didn't do it to him.I told him I was proud of him.He repaid me by going to every person I ever knew (friend or foe) and killing me.He said he wants me dead, threatened to do it in detail- I am to be despised as a failure.I should have sued the newspaper/radio. I didn't.I would now but it's too late-it took me this long to process it all.I had a position where you'd recognise me-now I'm afraid.I've been treated terribly by strangers who believe him. I never told him how bad his father had been.Children are two halves of their parents and I didn't want him to carry what his father had done. I did however think that in the future he would need to know his father. I just said that I wanted him to be able judge for himself when the time came and need nothing.I hadn't planned on there being facebook.His half siblings and himself started chatting and this could well have been contributory to the problems.I blame myself, have no friends (they're just nosy and believe him as it's a better story) and hate my son. That's a lot of stuff inside a mild mannered human being like me.If I could go back I would never have had him.I'd have given him up to social services rather than mind and lie for him.He is still torturing me via family and past friends.Facebook allows him to say this stuff and there natural reaction is to feel sorry for him. This is his method. I did love my son, did my best (I am only human).

  • JessieRoberts
    When teaching your child to make amends with the person they stole from, aren't you just teaching them it's ok as long as they say I'm sorry? And if you make them work for money they stole from you, aren't you just telling them, well as long as you doMore a chore then you can take what you want. This is all well and good but I believe there needs to be a much bigger impact as far as consequences go.
  • stolen money

    My daughter stole 30k what do I do also the money was stolen from her and she continues to steal

    • Rick
      I have a 27 year old brother who keeps spending money on video games. He current does not have a job and was fired from his recent one in which he stole from them. He opened a credit card prior to that and spent $5,000 on a creditMore card he opened and paypal credit over the course of a few months on various items, mostly video games and related items. He's also stolen cash from my parents and even written checks out of their accounts for over $1,500. I've tried to support him and told my parents to go easy on him after the first mistake. But yet he does it over and over again. I'm losing patience with him. I'm running out of ideas on how to teach him to be responsible. He made a good 800 per month on his recent job, but yet still it wasn't enough to spend. Now he opened 2 more cards and immediately put on $1,200.
  • confusedmom
    I jave a 16 yr old who steals and lies about it even when caught we have tried many different punishments and he still continues this behavior and it almost seams like he don't care that its wrong or if it hurts us any advice with this would be great
    • RebeccaW_ParentalSupport


      Stealing and lying

      are two very challenging behaviors for parents to face.  Something that I

      often remind parents is that the role of consequences is not to make your child

      “care” about what he has done, or to change his behavior; their role is simply

      to hold him accountable for his actions.  It can also be helpful to talk

      with him about what he will do differently the next time he is tempted to

      steal.  In addition to the suggestions in the article above, you might

      also find our articles https://www.empoweringparents.com/article/child-discipline-consequences-and-effective-parenting/ and https://www.empoweringparents.com/article/why-is-my-child-stealing-and-what-can-i-do-advice-for-parents-on-kids-stealing-and-shoplifting/ helpful as you move forward.  Take care.

  • coryn21371

    Advice.... Our 8 y/o daughter took a digital camera from her father's house to school and then to my house and hid it.

    Straight A student, has her own Fuji mini8 camera. Very kind and we'll rounded child and her father and I are friends and co-parent very well together. Why on earth would she sneak his camera? My only thought is she is very interested in photography since she got her instant camera. But she could have asked and borrowed his!! She is sad and remorseful, and knows she has disappointed us. But I'm just not sure what her punishment should be.... As for now I've taken all technology and Christmas presents away. She may quietly read or draw.

    • DeniseR_ParentalSupport


      It can be disheartening when your child takes something that

      doesn’t belong to her. When she steals from a parent, it can leave you feeling

      hurt and betrayed. It may help to recognize that stealing is a reflection of

      faulty problem solving skills, as mentioned in the above article. You may find

      it helpful to have your daughter makes amends to her father for taking his

      camera instead of withholding Christmas gifts or technology for an undetermined

      amount of time. An amends, in the form of paying rent on the item or doing

      another task to make it up to her father, is a way for your daughter to take

      responsibility for the choice she made. For more information on ways of

      addressing stealing in younger children, you can check out some of our other

      articles here:  http://empoweringparents.com/category-Stealing.php. We appreciate you writing in and sharing your

      story. Take care.

  • PoorMomma
    My 24 year old that is more like a 15 year old mentally ....... I caught red handed in my purse.....I've known for years but could never catch him. Now what?
    • DeniseR_ParentalSupport


      I’m sorry you are having to deal with this type of behavior

      from your adult son. It can be tough as a parent to know how to address

      stealing. The above article offers some great tips for things you can do to

      hold your son accountable for his stealing, such as calling the police if he is

      stealing from you or other family members. Another article you may find helpful

      is https://www.empoweringparents.com/article/rules-boundaries-and-older-children-part-ii-in-response-to-questions-about-older-children-living-at-home/. In it, James Lehman offers parents of adult

      children helpful tips for addressing some of the challenges they may face. I

      hope you find this information useful for your situation. We appreciate you

      writing in. Take care.

  • needadviceinaz

    My almost 13 year old daughter has been stealing money from myself and my fiance for over a year now, before she was caught, he was constantly acusing her, and I would defend her because neither of us caught her in the act.

    He decided to count his money right before dinner one day, she disappeared during dinner and money went missing from our room, he said it was her, I didn't believe it and it caused a huge argument. I confronted her, she denied it to the point of tears, until her sisters brought the money they found to me. After that she changed her story and said she was acting out because she I won't let her see her dad, but the thing is, she has been caught stealing since before I left her father, so I don't believe the excuse she has given. I can not do anything about her father, he is absent her life, and having him in her life right now may not be a great idea anyway, he has a dependency problem, he stole from me for several years while we were together and would take her with him when he sold my stuff, I try not to compare the two, but it's more than fustrating.

    Needless to say, the stealing is causing a strain on my new relationship, my fiance wants me to get a handle on it before it get worse and I agree, but aside from talking to her and explaining why it's wrong and trying to understand why she does it, I have no idea what to do.

  • JLV1977
    My 13 year old son stold a very expensive necklace from me. I had been looking for that necklace for over 2wks. I asked my son had he seen the necklace and he looked me straight in the eyes and said no. I went to his basketball game and aMore girl that he likes comes up to me to say hello, and she was wearing my necklace. When I questioned her she said my son got it for her. When I confronted my son he denied stealing it. He said he found it outside. Which I know is a lie. On top of that he walked out of the home during mid discussion and was missing for 2 hrs. Please advise....
    • PoorMomma

      JLV1977 What I would do. First contact the parents of the girl explain so as not to make your son look bad..ie: he took the wrong necklace.....Then tell your son if he does it again he is going to have to go to juvenile hall. With the other kids that steal. Then ask him if he thinks he belongs there...he should say no....then say see ? Your not a theft and so behave like a person that is not a theft, be yourself. A good guy.  

      Then pray he doesn't continue with this behavior. 

      When I was young I did stupid stuff like that. I kinda had this thought that if no one was using it it was free game. Even jewelry. What I figured out when I was in my young 20's is that people can see it. People can see that your a bad person if you steal and they wont like you. I didn't want people to not like me so I didn't steal anymore. Like a light went off in my head. 

      I also had the idea planted when I was kid that stealing is against God so I had that foundation. Applying the foundation of that thought from childhood to adult hood took its toll. I finally got it.

      I also got my one and only spanking from my father for lying when I was like 4 yrs old. I was a terrible liar always have been.

      Lying and stealing are partners. Remember that.

    • DeniseR_ParentalSupport


      I can only imagine how shocked and upset you must have been

      when you saw someone else wearing your missing necklace. One thing that may be

      helpful to know is that for most kids, behaviors like lying and stealing aren’t

      moral issues as much as reflections of poor problem solving skills. Most

      likely, your son didn’t realize the value of the necklace. He may have seen it

      and thought how impressed his girlfriend would be if he gave it to her. Kids

      your son’s age tend to think only in terms of immediate future and it probably

      never occurred to him that you might see this girl wearing the necklace. When

      confronted with the information, he then lied as a way of avoiding getting in

      trouble. Have you taken steps to get the necklace back? That would be the first

      place to start. If you’re not able to get the necklace back, then your son

      needs to be held accountable for the value of the necklace. If you are able to

      get the necklace back, your son should have to pay rent on the item at a set

      price per day. So, if you decide to charge him $1/day and the necklace was

      missing for 5 days, he would then have to pay $5 rent on the item. I would also

      look at having him make an amends to you, whether in the form of an amends

      letter or doing something else to make it up to you. Lastly, sitting down with

      him and problem solving what he was thinking before he took the necklace and

      what he will do differently the next time he’s faced with a similar situation.

      I wouldn’t get into a debate on whether or not he took the necklace. Instead, I

      would keep the focus on what he’s going to do differently in the future. For

      more information on how to have a problem solving conversation with your son,

      you can check out the article https://www.empoweringparents.com/article/the-surprising-reason-for-bad-child-behavior-i-cant-solve-problems/. I hope

      this helps to answer your questions. Be sure to check back and let us know how

      things are going. Take care.

  • TeeH
    My step-son is constantly stealing from me in the past her usednmy credit card for games. I somehow lost $200 out of my wallet after he was the only one around my purse. Today, $40 grew legs and left my purse after I got outMore of the car to play basketball in the driveway with my kids... And of course my stepson was still in the car and then eventually comes to play with us... Later on I go to Walmart to by my kids some stuff and I ho to reach for the money I knew was in there but was now gone... I let my husband know that my money was missing but then he puts the whole house on punishment for it. However, I knew without a shadow of a doubt that my stepson took my money.. When I fianlly came back home and go into the house for the first time since the morning for the evening $40 miraculously appears in a purse on my bed that I wasnt carrying today.... When I talked to my hubby about talking to my stepson about this matter my husband fussed and said what eles do you want me to do... that I already didn't do. Afterwards, I told my husband to just forget about it but truly I am frustrated and discussed abiut this whole matter to the point I can't even look at my son.
  • jamalloco

    I went through a very bad Divorce where my EX stole Money,Watches,Guns,and so on.

    Now aftter my Divorce,I caught my 12years old Son stealing my expencive Watch from my Room.

    He said sorry,but need advice how to deal with this situation


    • Darlene EP


      I know this is not an easy

      situation to be dealing with, especially when you have gone through it with

      your ex. Try and separate that experience from this one if you can. They are

      different people and your son is not necessarily going to make the same choices

      that his father did. You can start by asking your son what problem was he

      trying to solve by taking the watch. Did he want a new watch? Was he going to

      give it to someone? When you know what problem he was trying to solve you can

      come up with a plan together about how he can solve that problem differently

      next time. When he has an alternative plan, he is more likely to make a better

      choice in the future. Make sure he returns the watch and has a concrete plan in

      case he is tempted again in the future. Thank you for writing in. Take care.

  • HurtAndConfusedMom

    This morning, my 12 year old daughter asked me for $3 so she could attend a talent show at school. I told her I did not have any cash on me, which I did not. She threw a hissy fit stating she was going to have to sit in the library if she didnt go to the talent show. I told her that wasnt a bad idea anyways, because she had brought home bad grades and could use the extra time to study. She walked away. We went on with our daily morning routine.  I walked in the bathroom to get hair gel for my son. The door wasnt shut of the way so there was no need for me to knock. My daughter was in there however. She was messing with something in her hoodie pocket. I asked what was in her pocket and she replied nothing, I am brushing my teeth. I said, that I had seen her playing with something in her pocket, and i would like to know what it was. She still denied. I walked towards her to stick my hand in her pocket and she jumped in the shower and started swinging at me. I backed away and I demanded she give me what was in her pocket right that instant. She reached in and handed me a necklace. This necklace was previously in my wallet. It wasnt even my necklace. I child of the sports team had asked me to hang on to it, during a practice, and left before I could give it back. I couldnt think of the right words to say. I asked where she got it from and she said I dont know. I said, well I know this was in my wallet, I had just put it there last night. I walked out of the bathroom to go get my wallet from my purse, only my wallet was not in my purse. I returned to the bathroom and asked my daughter where my wallet was. She said she didnt know. I said I know you know where my wallet is, please go and get it right now. She walked into her room and pulled it out of a cushion of a couch in her room. I told her taking and hiding my wallet was wrong for so many reasons, but did she understand that I need my wallet in order to drive? In order to go to the grocery store to buy us milk for the morning? In order to take her brother to the doctor that afternoon? I walked away to go check my wallet to make sure nothing was missing. She goes into her room and comes out with her backpack and instrument for band. I asked to see both items before she left. She tried running out the back door. I was able to grab her backpack long enough to slow her down. She dropped her instrument and played out this drama filled falling to the ground scene. I picked up her instrument and asked for her backpack. She refused again. I told her that I would have her instrument and as soon as I was able to look inside both that and her backpack, I would give it back. She said she will never let me see inher backpack and left for the bus. I searched her instrument case, but found nothing. She came back inside with no backpack and asked for her instrument, stating she was going to get an F. I told her she could have her instrument as soon as I was able to look in her backpack. She went back outside. I watched her through the blinds as she proceeded to take a few items out of her backpack and then head back towards the house with the backpack. She was heading for the garage door, so i went out the front door. I walked over to the items she had thrown out and brought them inside. I searched through them quickly and found nothing. It was a Tshirt and a notebook that had about 20 pieces of paper in in with multiple sentences stating, "I will not talk in class". Was that all she was hidng from me? I have no idea. I opened the door and told her to come get her stuff and set it outside the door. The bus came and went and when I walked outside later, her stuff was still sitting by the front door. 

    Now that I sit here and think about it, the more worried I become. I am 32 weeks pregnant and have been very forgetful. There have been times throughout this pregnancy that I thought I had cash in my wallet, but it turned out that i did not. Now, I am starting to think I havent been loosing my mind and being forgetful. I am starting to think that she has in fact been taking it. There was one time about a month ago, I thought I had $40 in my wallet. I dont keep cash on me that often so spending cash is something I wouldnt normally forget. Same child brought a permission slip home for some kind of trip that i needed to pay for. I went to go get the money out of my wallet and there was only $20 there. I froze and tried to think what i would of done with it. I told her that I was sorry, but I thought I had the money, but I did not. Later that weekend, we were at a festival volunteering at a booth. She asked if she could walk around with friends and I said that was fine (it was a very small location on a military base so I was not worried). She came back and asked if she could buy a funnel cake. I told her I did not have any cash on me, that she would need to ask her dad. She pulled out $17 from her pocket and said, I dont need money, I have some. I asked where she got it from. She said she found a $20 on the ground and she bought her and her friend a soda. I guess I made a funny look at her, because she then said you can have it if you want. I dont need money. I asked her if that was the $20 that went missing out of my wallet the other day and she said no, she just found that on the ground. I had no proof it was my money. I did keep it though. I also made her repay the $3 that was missing from the $20 she "found" but doing extra chores.... which was like asking her to walk on hot coals. 

    Her brother also has a change jar that my husband and I add money to when we find change. He collects it. He likes looking at all the different dates and styles of each coin and is definitely not something he would spend, he is 6 anyways so its not like he can go to the store by myself. When I told my husband what happened today, he immediately brought up my sons change jar. I went to look in it, and sure enough there isnt much left in there. Mainly just pennies left. 

    I am unsure how to handle this but know something needs to be done ASAP.

  • crazedmom718
    We have recently had problems with my son lying and sneaking. He wants to play video games, but has lost the privilege due to poor grades and behavior. Though if we do not watch him on the computer (doing his homework), he will be playing a game. We have deletedMore games from his computer and he reinstalls them. I recently found out that he took my debit card to buy a game. He had already lost games and his phone. He has to use his computer for school. Idk what to do. I'm so sad that he went as far as to steal from me.
  • Grandmangrandpa
    My 17 year old grandson stays with us most of the time. He is an honor student, has been in Marching band all through high school, he's taking college courses while in his last year of high school, planning on attending college after high school, has a very high IQ,More has been in track, swimming and other activities in HS. and has both his mom and dad and a younger sister in his life as well as me and his grandpa. That's the good part...now the problem....for several years he has been playing a popular battle game online with a group of friends..all the time! A couple times he knew what my paypal login was and ordered stuff for this game. I found out because I check my accounts online every day. I changed my password. Now I have started to find money missing from my purse. I keep close count of my money!! First time it was $100.00 then a couple days ago another $100.00 gone. Last night I got $100.00 from the ATM. I counted it again this morning...I went nowhere..spent none of it but then my grandson came here after school while I was in the bathroom. I came out..said hi..he was playing that game on my computer already and then I had a funny feeling and checked my purse..sure enough this time $20.00 was missing. I felt sick to my stomach to think he was doing this to me. I asked him a couple days before when the second $100.00 went missing if he might have seen $100.00 laying around because I was missing it from my purse. He said no and said wow how did you loose $100.00? Today when the $20.00 was missing I went in and said I know you took my money..he denied it and said he would not steel from me and that if he needed money he would ask me for it. I made him empty his pockets and checked his book bag and checked his car...nothing. I told him money just doesn't get up and walk away and I had just check it this morning and the $100.00 was all there. He is the only other person in the house and right after he came...$20.00 is missing. He is either a very good liar or I am going crazy. It kills me to think he would steel and look me in the eye and say he didn't. My gut feeling says he lied. I am hoping he won't stay away from us now that I have accused him even though for some reason he didn't act very upset when I did. His parents don't have much money and we are retired and get by with a fixed income from SS and a small pension. My husband didn't take the money from my purse! Any advice would be appreciated.
    • Darlene EP


      I am sorry you are having to

      deal with this issue. It is one many parents and grandparents face, and we know

      it is not easy. It certainly sounds like your grandson had the opportunity to

      take the money and it appears that he probably did. However, because you did

      not catch him with the money and you have it back now, I think it is going to

      be important to remove any opportunity he may have to take it in the future.

      Removing the temptation is what you have control over. When he is at your

      house, put your money away. I know this is not something you should have to do,

      but the fact is you need to if you do not want to continue to deal with this

      issue. We wish you well as you continue to work through this. Thank you for

      writing in.

  • Rosie
    Hi my 16 year son steals everything in the house, things keep going missing, we try and hide money etc but he searches the whole house. My husbands phone has gone missing now. Some advice would be great as I don't no what to do. We haven't got a greatMore relationship and no matter how much I try nothing seems to work. I also know he smokes cannabis do I know where all the money is going. It's hard to confront him about it as I'm not 100 % he has stolen things but I know in my heart he has.
    • Marissa EP


      When the relationship with your child is already strained,

      it can certainly be difficult to confront him/her around issues you aren’t 100%

      sure they are doing, as it can make the situation worse.  For this reason,

      we recommend not accusing your son of stealing unless you have proof. What we

      would recommend is setting clear limits with all family members about the rules

      around taking things that don’t belong to you. We would also recommend securing

      all money, valuables, or things that might be traded or sold for drugs or money,

      by locking them up or using a lock box. If you believe your son is using the

      money to purchase drugs, this step will be especially important in trying to

      make it more difficult for him to get money. Kim Abraham and Marney

      Studaker-Cordner  offer some additional tips for dealing with teen

      substance use in their article, http://www.empoweringparents.com/my-child-is-using-drugs-alcohol-what-should-i-do.php Best of luck as

      you continue to work on this with your son.

  • judynunnjarrett
    my daughters son stole her id ran up lot of money on her she got arrested for idenity theft shes beside herself i dont know how to help
  • Susan

    Hi my 15yo son  has been smoking dope l caught him last week and again this week. I have grounded him and took away all the gadgets. And he was told the only place he would go would be school and partime job. I also witheld his pay as punishment because l'm  assuming his buying drugs with that. I had a big money tin hidden in my room which was full and today decided to count as l was going to make a deposit for xmas lunch for us. It was gone..... l'm  pretty confident it was 15yo old! I'm  so upset . I dont know how lm going to deal with it when he gets home from school can you help? Older brother did same sorts of things and ended up doing a stint in juvenile jail! God l so dont think l could cope going through the same thing with 15 yo.

    Devasted S

    • DeniseR_ParentalSupport


      I can only imagine how upsetting it was to find the money

      missing. As Carole Banks points out in the above article, you want to be

      careful not to accuse your son if you don’t have proof that he took the money.

      One thing you might consider doing is calling the police and putting in a

      stolen property report, as James Lehman suggests in the article Why is My Child Stealing and What Can I Do? Advice for Parents on Kids, Stealing and Shoplifting. I would also refrain from keeping any cash in the house if

      there’s a possibility your son might take it. We appreciate you writing in. Be

      sure to check back and let us know how things are going. Take care.

  • Versy


    My son is 13 and now in his 2nd year of high school - last year he stole 3 mobile phones from school.  I put this down to him not seeing Dad ( although has a great relationship with step dad of 9 years) and also the fact I have not given him a mobilephone yet. I told him to stay out of trouble and I wouldpurchase a phone for him but a couple of months later he took his best friends Ipod (his broke a few months ago).  He has a younger sister at 11 and we all are worried sick about him.  I work in Family support and I am at a loss.   I can't trust my son and tis is begining to put a strain on our relationship.   He has now been charged with the police over taking the ipod - I'm terrified he will do it again to the point I'm hardly eating or sleeping.

    Can you help with a short bit of advice

    kind regards

    streesed mum

    • Marissa EP


      Thank you for reaching out to us with your question. I can

      understand how difficult it must be to see your son make poor choices, like

      stealing. In http://www.empoweringparents.com/Shoplifting-Stealing-and-Stealing-with-Aggression.php, by James Lehman, creator of the https://store.empoweringparents.com/product/total-transformation-program/ program, he encourages parents to allow kids to feel the

      natural consequences of his poor choice, and in your son’s case, that means

      dealing thewith the police. It will also be

      important to have conversations with your son about what he can do different

      the next time he wants something or feels like taking something that doesn’t

      belong to him. Help him make a plan for what he can do the next time he is

      tempted to take something, and review his plan with him each day before he

      leaves for school. Best of luck to you and your family as you continue to work

      on this with your son.

  • concerned mum
    my 14 year old son stole £250 from my husband last year... we discovered the reason and sorted it out. He assured us that this wouldnt happen again. The other day my husband discovered that £30 was missing. When questioned my son owned up to taking it saying he didntMore know why he did it and he was sorry. I dont know what to do re punishment? my mum thinks i should take him to the police station to scare him, my husband isnt offering any advice (it his not his son and he doesnt discipline him very often) i feel such disappointment and pressure. I want to deter him but do not know what the best option is......? he seems sorry but he was last time he needs to appreciate how serious this is.....
    • Marissa EP

      @concerned mum 

      Hi there! You ask a great question here about your son, and

      I can understand the pressure you are feeling to do the best you can by him. We

      speak to parents frequently, who are dealing with similar behaviors, so you are

      not alone. First, we would support the idea of you, as the biological parent, taking

      the lead in holding your son accountable for his poor choices. While I’m sure

      your son is remorseful, it will be important to help him come up with a plan of

      what he can do when he feels the urge to take money that doesn’t belong to him.

      When he gets the urge, maybe his plan is to walk away and tell you. Have him

      come up with two or three alternatives that are more acceptable than stealing. What

      does he intend to do with the money after he takes it? If there are things he wants

      to buy, you might help him make a plan of ways he can earn money, by doing

      extra chores, or odd jobs for the neighbors. I hope this is helpful. Thanks for

      writing in and take care!

  • Christelle12


    I am a single parent and my son that is now 21 has been caught about 2 years ago that he stole my camera and cell phone and sold it. At first he denied, until I showed him my proof. Then he only said sorry, and that he would replace it. I got a new camera, which I do not know where he got it from, but not the same value or as good as what I had.

    I have lost all my jewelry, my late fathers stuff of value that was in the safe. My mothers laptop. I have no power tools, like grinders, drills etc left in my garage. He even told me that after I had a polygraph test done that the person who conducted the test made a mistake. Out of 3 kids tested, his was the only report that showed that he was not being truthful. 

    He has obviously perfected his way of getting hold of the stuff, without being caught. Things were going fine for about a year or so. And last night I realized that my one laptop has gone missing. My first suspicion is my son, and I feel really bad to say this, although I would like to believe him when he says he had nothing to do with it, I do still think it was him. I also have one other person that I suspect, but its not my child and trying to speak to one of the parents might kill a relationship just for asking if the child knows anything.South Africa is not one of the most friendly places for a young person to end up in jail. Cause I am at the point where I would accuse him and have him locked up to teach him a lesson, but what if this time it really wasn't him?

    • RebeccaW_ParentalSupport


      You ask a really good question, and I’m glad that you are

      reaching out for support around this matter.  You are correct that

      accusing and giving consequences for stealing without proof can be tricky,

      because if it turns out that your son is innocent, it can really damage your

      relationship with him.  While I am not familiar with the legal system in

      South Africa specifically, something that I recommend to parents is to think

      about how you would respond if your child was not involved at all.  For

      example, you might increase the security on your home or make a police report

      that your laptop is missing without accusing anyone. I hope this is

      helpful for you; please let us know if you have any additional questions.

  • helpplease
    My son is 23 and has stole from us and brother thru debit cards but it is hard to figure how to cope with this. trying to again set rules and figure why do it..from his brother , he used it to gamble
  • helpmeplease
    my stepdaughter steal everything from snacks to pens but she steals mostly from me how do I stop because I'm tried of it
    • DeniseR_ParentalSupport


      Stealing can be tough behavior to address because it can

      leave a parent feeling betrayed and also concerned for their child’s future.

      The above article gives some great tips for what steps you can take to hold

      your stepdaughter accountable and also help her learn not to steal. Another

      article you may find helpful is “I Caught My Child Lying” — How to Manage Sneaky Behavior in Kids. I hope

      this information is useful. Good luck to you and your family moving forward.

      Take care.

  • 3skids
    Someone has stolen from us, but there are 3 children (16, 12, 10) and no one will admit to it.  What would you do in this type of situation.  It has happened multiple times.
    • RebeccaW_ParentalSupport


      It can be difficult to hold a

      child accountable for stealing when you do not know which one might be

      responsible.  Unless you have definitive proof that one child has stolen,

      I would not recommend giving consequences because doing so with a child who has

      not misbehaved can damage your relationship. Instead, I recommend speaking with

      each child individually about your family values around not stealing. 

      Some families find it helpful to offer an opportunity for the child to return

      the stolen item, such as by placing it on the kitchen table before

      bedtime.  It can also be useful to focus on where you have control, and

      make sure that you are securing your possessions and money in a safe

      place.  You might also consider http://www.empoweringparents.com/Is-It-Time-to-Call-the-Police-on-Your-Child.php to report the theft, especially if it is a valuable item or

      large amount of money which was stolen.  I understand that this is a

      challenging spot to be in for most parents, and I appreciate your reaching out

      to us for support.  Please let us know if you have any additional


  • Mykids2716
    My 19 year old son has been stealing from us for years. Initially he stole money and jewelry. We got him into a residential treatment program. He was doing drugs (this was when he was 16.) He was in the program 6 months and they asked him to leave. HeMore never bought into the program. They said he needed more intense Psychiatric care. The hospital released him saying he was fine. He is on medication now for mood disorder and depression. He is on it as a stipulation for being allowed to live at home, as he was off his medication for quite awhile. He dropped out of school. he hangs around with kids who do nothing everyday, but hang out and smoke marijuana or do other drugs. He was involved in the juvenile justice system. They never followed through on anything. He spent 3 nights in detention. At 18 he entered adult court, but for misdemeanor things. He goes to behavioral health court due to his diagnosis of behavior disorder, ADHD, anxiety disorder, oppositonal defiant disorder.  He is supposed to take anger management, substance abuse and domestic violence classes. He goes to these sometimes. he never buys in. He continues to steal from us, even though we have locked things away. He blames everything on us. We were not strict enough, we gave into him all the time, we spoiled him. When he became 18 he decided he didn't have to listen to us. But he doesn't work, so he has no money, unless he steals from us. He has probably stolen over $30,000 worth of money, jewelry, electronics. He is verbally abusive. Recently he kicked in a solid wood door with a deadbolt to our closet and stole coin collections and other money. He feels no remorse. We love him, but we cannot go on much longer. He has no where to go if we kick him out of the house, but we can't keep being verbally assaulted and stolen from. We don't know what to do. He was adopted at birth. We have very little history...we know she did drugs while pregnant with him. It is so sad for us all. I wish I could help him..but he doesn't want help..he just wants to take or for us to give him whatever he wants. He has been in counseling many times for years--he never really was a participant. He refuses to talk to anyone now. It's like he's 19 going on 5. All he wants is immediate reinforcement and instant gratification. He lies about everything, even when there is no reason to lie. We are just about at the end of our rope. It will "kill" me to kick him out, but we cannot go on. The verbal abuse is constant. I have asked him to leave previously, but then he calls and cries, says he has no where to go. Please can he come home. I always give in... We set boundaries and he breaks them. So he knows he can keep making the same poor choices and nothing really will happen. I have been to counseling and learning to set boundaries and stop enabling. We have gotten the police involved a few times..but that is never a good choice. It ends up punishing us. We pay court costs and fines and he is thrown into the system, with some consequences, but not much. I know no one can give me any really good answers. It just feels good to write this out and to know maybe someone will read it. Just wondering if anyone else has experiencing anything similar would be (in a way) comforting. Sometimes we feel like an island..we are floating and lost. Thanks for listening.
    • lhl06
      Mykids2716 Oh man.  I could have wrote this exact same post.  Except my daughter is now 22 and things are getting worse.  I really don't know what to do.  I agree with you about the police.  Counsellors will say to call the police, but I too think it makes itMore worse.  Not sure what to do or where to go with this.  ANYONE? :(
    • MyBoyToo


      I have a 19-year old who you are describing to a T... only I am a single mother. I often blamed it on the fact that he has no father, which I'm sure is relevant, but it sounds like you are a 2 parent family. I went to the courthouse and filed a restraining order because I do not want him in my home any more. I have kicked him out before for stealing my jewelry, but caved and let him back in after a few months because I felt bad for him being on the streets. He started to  steal money, jewelry, electronics, etc. again so that's why I got the restraining order. A few days ago I found him hiding in my closet so I called the police (unbeknownst to him) and they came and served the restraining order. He made a statement referring to suicide so I petitioned him and the police escorted him to the Crisis Resource Center so he could have a 23 hour evaluation period. He signed an information release form which meant the staff could share information with me. They said he had only THC in his system and he didn't appear to be going through withdrawals while in there so it doesn't seem to me that he's using hard drugs. He left his phone here so, for the first time, I looked at his email. He was often stealing things and giving them away, as well as selling them. It saddens me to think his self-esteem is so low that he needs to give things to people in order to gain approval. 

      He, too, has been through the juvenile court system, seen many counselors both voluntarily and involuntarily. He goes to NA meetings and that's about the only thing that seems to help him. For the most part he really doesn't participate in it either.

      So now he's on the streets again, probably frequents the neighborhood to see if there is an opportunity to steal from me again. I have added several locks and changed the existing ones. I've never been robbed before and hate living like this! But I don't want him to have another opportunity. And the restraining order was my only recourse and his only consequence. I'm sorry I had to resort to "the system" but I'm so fed up living like this. It's been going on for 6-7 years now, since he started junior high. 

      I go to "Naranon" meetings, even though I'm not convinced that he's a hard drug addict. I think his marijuana addiction is severe, though. The meetings are full of people from all backgrounds and walks of life who have suffered the same things that I have. If nothing else, it's comforting knowing I'm not the only one going through all this. I would suggest seeking out a support group in your area, too. 

      Good luck, it's a nightmare what we're going through, and it's gotta be for them, too.

  • Khurshid0809


    i am father of 2 daughters, i am living abroad, my elder daughter(7) started stealing money from mother's wallet, unfortunately my wife has punished her physically, she took that money to school and used some amount and gave back the remaining amount through her younger sister. Kindly advise in this situation, how should i deal her.

    • RebeccaW_ParentalSupport


      Many parents are understandably concerned when they discover

      that a child has stolen money from them, and wonder how to address this

      behavior when it happens.  We do not recommend using physical punishments,

      mainly because it is not teaching your daughter alternative ways that she could

      have handled this situation.  Instead, we recommend focusing more on

      building her http://www.empoweringparents.com/the-surprising-reason-for-bad-child-behavior.php  At this point, I encourage you to have a conversation with

      your daughter about what was going on right before she decided to take money

      from her mother’s wallet, and what she can do differently in the future to

      avoid taking money that doesn’t belong to her.  I also recommend having

      your daughter repay the entire amount taken, such as by doing extra chores or

      withholding a portion of her allowance.  I recognize that this is a tough

      situation, and I hope you will write back and let us know how things are going

      for you and your family.  Take care.

  • GivingUp

    My son has been stealing from us and his brother for about 6 years on and off. The only piece of jewelry I have left is my wedding ring and that's because I never take it off. He's stolen games, money, and gaming consoles from his brother. He recently took my card. He even has the audacity to say that he didn't steal anything. I can't have him in my home any longer but as a mother I fear for his safety. It's not fair to my younger son either and I can't live with the stress anymore

    I just don't know what to do any longer. My heart is broken. I've put up with A LOT of bad behavior from him and keep bailing him out. At this point, I'm beginning to not even like him anymore.

    If someone's not on drugs than why else would they continue to break their family's heart time after time after time. Is he a sociopath?

    • DeniseR_ParentalSupport


      It can be difficult when your child continues to make the

      same bad choices over and over again. Many parents wonder of there is a

      possible mental health issue that’s affecting behavior. While that may be

      possible, the poor choices a person makes are most often due to a lack of

      appropriate problem solving skills, as Carole Banks explains in the article

      above. In the situations you describe, your son solves the problem of not

      having money by taking things that don’t belong to him and, I’m guessing,

      selling them. The reason this behavior has continued is because it works for

      him. One way to contend with that is to take steps so it doesn’t, perhaps by

      calling the police when things go missing and filing a police report. This will

      help to establish a paper trail of sorts. And, if he gets in trouble with

      someone outside of the house for this behavior, you want to refrain from

      bailing him out, as tough as it may be to do that. Without any sort of

      consequence for his behavior, he hasn’t had to experience any real discomfort

      from his choices. Expecting him to feel bad because his stealing is hurting you

      or other members of the family is probably expecting too much. While your pain

      may bother him, it’s not going to be on the same level as suffering the

      consequences of his own choices. If your son is a minor, it may be of benefit

      to have him seen by a mental health professional in your area to rule out any

      possible underlying issues, as James Lehman suggests in the article Why is My Child Stealing and What Can I Do? Advice for Parents on Kids, Stealing and Shoplifting. While a diagnosis wouldn’t be an excuse for his behavior,

      it would give you more information for how to approach the behavior you are

      seeing and help to determine if a therapeutic response is also needed. If your

      son is an adult, then you may need to decide exactly how much interaction you

      wish to continue having with him. You may be able to suggest he seek the help

      of a professional but you would be limited in motivating him to consent to an

      evaluation. I know this is a tough place to be as a parent. Hang in there. I

      hope you will continue to check back to let us know how things are going. Take


  • Helplessinbakercity
    I have a 13 year old daughter that has been stealing from me.  She doesn't steal her dads stuff just mine.  When I confront him about it he says in front of her that she didn't take my stuff.  He backs her I can prove it there is only theMore 3 of us that live in the house of course I am not taking my own things and if he isn't taken them then that leaves her.  He lets her get away with things because she threatens to move to her Moms.  Any suggestions on how I can handle this situation?
    • DeniseR_ParentalSupport


      What an upsetting situation. I can only imagine how

      frustrated you are that your stepdaughter keeps taking things from you and your

      husband doesn’t seem to back you up when you discover items missing. It may be

      helpful to talk with your husband during a calm time when your daughter isn’t

      present about what steps you can take the next time you find something missing.

      It may be more effective as well to let him know when things are missing

      instead of confronting her directly. This may help to alleviate some of the

      division that appears to be occurring when you confront her directly. Generally

      speaking, we do suggest that the bio parent take the lead when these types of

      situations occur, as James Lehman explains in his article “My Blended Family Won’t Blend—Help!” Part I: How You and Your Spouse Can Get on the Same Page. You might also consider finding a way to make your items

      less accessible, by putting a lock on your bedroom door or buying a lock box

      for your valuables. While I understand you shouldn’t have to lock up your

      possessions in your own home, the reality is that in your specific situation,

      this is one of the things you’re going to have the most control over. Hang in

      there. Blending families can offer some tough challenges. Be sure to check back

      and let us know how things are going. Take care.

  • Sibyenna

    I need help, My daughter is 11, this year has been a tough one when we lost her step dad and her biological dad drops in and out when he feels and stirs up her emotions making her angry and resentful.

    This last few months she started stealing at first I noticed a pound here or there, then one day she stole chocolate from a shop, I made her take it back and apologise but the shop keeper wasn't particularly interested, since then the money has continued to disappear and she brought shoes home from school, when she finally admitted taking them she said she saw them under a cloakroom bench at the end of school and liked them so brought them home, Obviously I've had talk after take, I return the things she takes when I catch her, I tried grounding, removing favourite items, no spend, early bedtime etc etc and nothing is getting through.

    I've been contemplating calling the police now and letting them do what they do but I'm torn, I don't want to give her a reputation and waste the police time but I'm at my wits ends.

    Does anyone have any constructive advice or experience???

  • HermomMcc

    Our 12 yr old daughter was told as she and a friend staying over for the weekend was dropped off at the movies to bring back the change and only spend $6 on icecream. Not only did she and the friend spend the change but, now they are playing the "I didn't know" game. I consider this as stealing. Any suggestions on appropriate punishment? I feel not receiving her earned allowance for 2weeks isn't enough because, this involves; morels, values, trust, principles and laws.



    1st timer

    • Darlene EP


      It certainly is frustrating as a

      parent when you have been clear on an expectation, you trust your child to do

      the right thing, and they end up making a poor choice. Unfortunately, this is

      something you will probably face many times because many kids are poor problem

      solvers. They need to be taught and learn the skills to solve problems

      effectively. We would suggest you view this situation as a poor problem solving

      issue rather than moral one. As Janet Lehman states in her article http://www.empoweringparents.com/how-to-manage-sneaky-behavior-in-kids.php, when

      you take the emotion out of the situation and stop taking it personal you can

      help your child to learn skills rather than just punish. By having a http://www.empoweringparents.com/the-surprising-reason-for-bad-child-behavior.php conversation about how to handle a similar situation in the future,

      you are helping your child develop more effective ways to solve problems. We

      would also suggest withholding allowance to make amends to you as repayment.

      Further consequences are not going to teach her anything, which is the goal of

      consequences. Thank you for reaching out to us. We hope this is helpful for

      your situation. Take care.

  • jbreznau
    My older daughter who now is 18 years old starting stealing money from us three years ago. Last year she broke into our safe while I was out of town working and stole about eight thousand dollars all of my wife's jewelry also then called DHS on us and reportedMore we beat her to get out of the house so she did not have to face the consequences of what she did. After many weeks of having to prove that what she said about us DHS let her move back into our house we forgave her but kept an eye on her actions and set rules which she started breaking within in the first week. Two months ago she went into job corps and went to Idaho for training came back home two weeks ago for summer break we let her stay here thinking she had changed but when she left this week I went into my safe box to get some money to fix my car and found that three hundred dollars missing wife found that two of her paychecks missing along with many of our electronics gone I want to press charges this time would this be wrong of me?
    • DeniseR_ParentalSupport


      I can understand your dilemma. On the one hand, you don’t

      want to see your child become involved with the law. On the other hand, she has

      stolen money and other items and should be held accountable for that behavior.

      Sometimes it can be helpful to look at the situation as if it were a stranger

      who had done the misdeed. If I walked into your home and stole money and

      electronics, would you call the police? My guess is most likely. After all, the

      behavior is wrong and illegal. It doesn’t make it less wrong or less illegal

      because it was a family member who committed the crime. I know it is a tough

      situation to be in. Be sure to check back and let us know how things are going.

      Take care.

  • Dominica Robinson
    I have a 16 year old daughter, who is a good kid for the most part. Besides the typical teenage stuff, she is a great kid. Now, my husband keeps telling me that money keeps coming up missing from his sock drawer. He doesn't out right say its my daughter,More but we know that I haven't taken anything. We have asked my daughter about it, and she says she hasn't taken anything. Ive never had problems with her stealing in the past, but I know its been hard for her having a step father. The thing that confuses me, is that we give my daughter a nice size allowance...she has plenty of money of her own. Stealing would make no sense. I sometimes even think to myself- is my husband sure he really has money missing? Is he being truthful? He has mentioned this on about 4 different occasions& he continues to put his money in the same place. If you feel as though your money is being stolen, why would u put it in the same place? I don't know what to think, any advice? I just bought a spy camera for our bedroom, hoping this will shed some light.
    • lindsey
      Dominica Robinson i had the same problem with my 15 year old son and his step father, i chose not to accuse my son of taking the money until i had definiative proof. We recently marked the money and sure enough some went missing.  I then told my son whatMore we had done and that if he was adament it wasnt him it could only be his older sister and that  I would have to ask her to leave our home.  He then crumbled and amitted it.  I am gutted and hurt and my partner has been very supportive, i feel guilty for him that he has to go through this, im considering locks on the doors but its awful that I cannot trust my boy anymore.  Im wondering if its a cry for my attention as he doesnt actually need any money he has plenty of his own.  Good luck x
      • jazzyad
        Wow, thanks for the response. I recently bought a camera for our room, and plan on trying that. Take care, and I hope everything works out. Did ur son say why he did it?
    • RebeccaW_ParentalSupport

      Dominica Robinson 

      We speak with other parents who

      describe similar situations, so you are not alone.  As Carole points out

      in the above article, if you are not certain that your daughter has taken money

      from your husband, we do not recommend giving her a consequence for that. 

      What will be most effective at this point is to focus on where you have

      control, which is over yourself and your own actions.  Buying a spy camera

      is a good example of this.  Another action we would recommend is talking

      with your husband about securing his money more effectively.  For example,

      he might limit the amount of cash he has in the house, or put his money in a

      different, more protected location. As for your daughter, it could be useful to

      talk with her in general about the money going missing without accusing

      her.  It’s a tough spot to be in as a parent, and I appreciate your

      writing in for guidance.  Please be sure to check back and let us know how

      things are going.  Take care.

  • myfavoritemartin

    OK, so I live with my boyfriend and his 17 (almost 18 year old son).  We are both in our 50's. My boyfriends wife died four years ago in a tragic accident that happened in front of both of them, so I know this kid has issues.  He refuses to go to counseling, and his father will not follow up and make him go.  I keep stressing the point that once he is 18, making him go will no longer be an option.  His father does a lot to compensate for their loss, I understand all this.  I am sure  of the empathy he has for his son, due to the loss of his mother. 

    At the age of 18, he has 5 credits towards graduation.  I  I have finally convinced my boyfreind to put him into a school with other kids that have issues and can not function in a normal high school setting.  We signed him up last week, but he doesnt know this yet. He does not go to school, if he goes he skips several hours. He is in trouble with the police, has been caught with marijuana in his possession 3 times now. 

    Because of his families "name" the police let him go the first two times.  The last time he was caught stealing a bunch of my jewerly and personal items.  I found these items in his room before he was able to sell them.  Instead of dealing with it or talking about it, he stormed out of the house on his bicycle, (his car had been taken away) He went to his father business, broke in and stole a vehicle, went to his sisters, told them a bunch of crap, stole money from her then got arrested sitting on the side of the road smoking pot.  He now has to call in every day to the probabation hotline, take random drug tests, and go to a 6 week counseling session in the summer.  Not enough if you ask me.

    So this kid has everything handed to him on a silver platter, from vehicles, to money, to phones, and computers and video games and clothes, you name it this kid gets it.  He has taken our vehicles while we are sleeping, he has totaled my boyfriends truck two times in the past six months, recklessly and intentionally doing doughnuts while he was drunk, and hitting trees.  He received one ticket, no license suspension or driving classes because of it.

    Two weeks ago he stole mine and totaled it in a six foot ditch, his Dad paid the deductible to have all of them fixed or replaced. 

    Along with all the screaming and yelling and the talking, the extra chores, the paying back/returning of items he has stolen, the grounding, we took away his computer because he would stay up all night playing games and sleep in school. He threw his phone in the road so he did not have to answer his fathers call, so no more phone( that was the second time his I phone got ran over by a car...)  We took away his vehicle, and I drove him 20 miles to school and back everyday to make sure he went to class for six months...he still skipped. He did chores, but only if you asked him 10 times.

    We have very much conveyed the fact that we do not like the person he has become, and that we like him as a person, but we do not like the person he has become, and the actions he has chosen to take will no longer be tolerated.  So he lost everything, except his ability to drive to school.  He now waits until we retire, steals my laptop and my phone to talk with his friends and play games while we are sleeping.  last week we caught him.  Our bedroom door has a dead bolt on it, because a simple lock was not enough to detour the child.  The office now has a dead bolt on it as well.  We hide our money, our credit cards, our prescriptions and our Liquor Collection in safes and lock boxes.  I stay home to watch the child because he can not be trusted her for 5 minutes without doing some more stupid than he did the last time.  He refuses to get a job, and his father has stopped giving him money for gas and lunch since he wont go to school anyways.

    Fast forward, to the day before yesterday.   He came home from school and stated he was taking his speakers to a friends house, or so he said.  It felt wrong,  I called his father and asked if it was ok. I was outside and watched everything he put in his truck, or so I thought. After he left I went upstairs to the loft to find that he had also taken the family's (its mine, I let him use it...) Gaming system along with about 200 games, all the controllers, everything was gone. .  His father found him at his friends, and apparently he had taken it to a friends moms house, and she took it to a pawn shop and pawned it for him, and gave him the money. His Dad bought it back from the Pawn Shop.

    When they returned, I told them both that I would no longer stay in this house with a drug addict and a criminal.  That he would have to go into rehab and counseling this summer because I am not going to sit here and babysit an 18 year old child. He started screaming and packed his stuff and moved out for the second time.  I know I should of called the police yesterday, but we are so stressed and on edge that is is hard to think clearly anymore around here.  His father made sure he had all his belongings, we gave him the Ramen Noodles and the Lucky Charms and took his house key and wished him well as he raced out of the drive way.

    Neither or us have slept since he left....he is a good kid, or used to be, and I hate to see this happen to his life.

    But honestly, this has to come to an end. ~Sighs~  Now we are waiting for the next phone call from the police. 

    Any advice on where to go from here would be incredibly helpful.

  • Ladydnotdiana
    Im a single mother of twins, a boy and a girl 7 years old and i live with my parents and siblings. My boy has been caught stealing from my sister's wallet several times and w have sat him down to explain how bad stealing is. He steals coins usuallyMore and buys snacks and sweets.Everyone has tried talking to him and i sometimes punish him  by giving the sister goodies and not giving him but he doesn't seem bothered. Now  since the sister knows the brother steals she called him yesterday to show him some money that was in my brother's drawer. he took the money and went and bought candy and they shared. I just found out from the nanny who had asked them were they got the money and they said mummy gave us. im really stressed and don't know how to handle this situation.My mom had suggested i take them to the police so maybe they can explain to them the consequences of stealing though i don't really know if its a good idea.Please help
    • Marissa EP


      Here on the Coaching Line, we frequently hear from parents

      of children who are stealing from family members. As noted in the above

      article, it is often faulty thinking that leads kids to take things that don’t

      belong to them. Kids don’t always have the skills to figure out other ways they

      might obtain the items without having to steal them. Stealing is a way to solve

      the problem. Instead of talking about why stealing is not ok, which most

      children already know, it may be more effective to help your son figure out a

      better way to get what he wants without stealing. For example, if he is taking

      money from family members to buy treats, you might help him make a plan for how

      he can earn his own money for treats. You might give him some small jobs or

      age-appropriate tasks that are above and beyond normal household expectations. If and when he does take something, we would

      suggest having a problem-solving conversation, asking, “What was going on that

      made you think it was ok to take this”, instead of asking, “Why”. The second

      question would be, “What can you do instead of stealing, the next time you want

      something?” This will help your son start to think about other options besides

      stealing. As the above article mentions, you don’t want your son to benefit

      from what was stolen or purchased. It is probably best to leave his sister out

      of it, as it sounds like she is catching on to how she benefits, and instead, keep

      the consequence focused on your son. We suggest having him make amends to the

      person he stole from, and give or pay back what he stole. At seven years old,

      he most likely doesn’t have any source of income, so you might have him do a

      chore or task for the person he stole from. You can also put a privilege on

      hold, such as electronics time, until that task is completed. As far as taking

      your kids to the police for a conversation, that is really your call since you

      know your children best. Keep in mind that talking to them, alone, won’t change

      the behavior. It’s really about helping them figure out a better plan to get

      what they want without stealing or breaking rules. Best of luck as you continue

      to work on this behavior.

  • sweetashoney70
    My adoptive son who is now 10 yrs old has been stealing from my purse, friend's house and possibly classmates. I know for fact because I caught him with my money today and after talking to him he admitted to trying to open our safe as well as stealing severalMore times from us. I am almost positive a few months ago that he was stealing from school or classmates. He lied and said he was finding it but it was every week and rather large amounts for a fourth grader. In total he "found" $84 in 4-5 weeks. We adopted him and his sister when he was 3 years old and she was 5. They both lie and she was caught stealing from a store as well as from me a few months ago. I don't know what to do with my son and what the consequence should be for the thefts? He is grounded and has to complete all chores as well. Any help would greatly be appreciated. I think we should start some family therapy but I am very worried about my son, he was emotionless while telling me about all he had stolen. Only time he cried was when he was told about being grounded and I will tell u that is not the norm for my son. He can be very emotional over very small things but not this . Please help!!
  • Hashoo19
    My son is about 15 years old, and he is school going boy where his annual result remains outstanding but he caught earlier steal the money. His mother brought him with red-handed in front of me and he admitted that he will not do again. Now, upon missing of bigMore amount his mother suspected on him and what we got from his belongings two mobile phones. One is SAMSUNG and other is HTC. Furthermore, his school teacher asked on Parent-Teacher meeting if we use to give him handsome cash as he throw a party to all teachers on selection of Dy-Prefect. I am worried and do not know how to deal with him. Please help.
  • Danny73

    Hi I think I need help with my child.

    This is the first time he has ever done a thing like this. He is 13 and stole 50 dollars from his grandmother. At first we did not know a thing but then we realised that 50 bucks was gone. We suspect him but I don't know if it's him. What should I Do.

    • Darlene EP


      That is a difficult situation to

      be in. It is understandable that you are not sure how to deal with this issue.

      Many parents are facing similar issues and are uncertain as well. While it is

      possible your son stole the money, there is really no proof.  Carole Banks

      discusses this in her article http://www.empoweringparents.com/is-your-child-stealing.php  She says it really could backfire

      on you if you accuse your son of stealing when he did not do it. It also would

      be best to avoid consequences in a situation where you have no proof. Instead,

      let your son know that there was some money missing and ask him if he knows

      anything about it. If he says he does not, take the opportunity to coach him on

      ways to respond to situations where he may be tempted to take something that is

      not his. This way you are making him aware that you know the money is missing

      and you are helping him to learn skills to make good choices. I hope this is

      helpful for your situation. Thank you for reaching out to us. Let us know if we

      can help with any other questions. Take care.

      • Albanora333jkn
        What if it had been not his grandmother but someone else and gave the 500$ to someone ie. Girlfriend, friend. How do they go about asking for the money back?
        • Darlene EP


          Regardless of who the money was

          stolen from, stealing is stealing. It is unacceptable and should not be

          tolerated. If you have proof the money was stolen then you should hold your son

          accountable. Your son should be responsible for repayment. That could involve

          him getting the money back from his girlfriend or working to pay off the debt.

          Either way it is his responsibility to return the money that he stole. It is

          also a good idea to have a problem solving conversation about what he will

          choose to do differently the next time he is tempted to take something that is

          not his. I hope this answers your question. Thanks for checking in with


  • DeniseR_ParentalSupport


    I can understand why you and your family would be upset. You brother stole a lot

    of money, which will probably have a big impact on the entire family. Since we

    are a website aimed at helping people who are in a direct parenting role, we

    are limited in the scope of advice we can offer you in your situation. There is

    a website you may not be aware of that could possibly offer you some insight

    for dealing with your specific situation.http://www.yourlifeyourvoice.org/Pages/home.aspx

    is a website focused on helping teens and young adults work through challenges

    they are facing in their family, at school, or in other areas of their life.

    They offer many different ways of contacting them for support, like an online

    forum, online chat, text/e-mail help, and a call in service. I encourage you to

    check out their site to see if they would be able to offer you any guidance. We

    appreciate you writing in and wish you all the best of luck moving forward.

    Take care.

  • Chin up
    I have an adult child who has severely abused our trust and has done several things to get money out of us any way possible. This child appears to feel no remorse or no consequences for the action they chose. I am so hurt and angry and don't know howMore to handle the situation any longer. There are now grandchildren involved and I am worried about the future impact on them. My child is facing legal issues and possible jail/prison time. This pattern of inappropriate spending has been going on for several years. I had thought it had gotten better but is much worse than it has ever been before. I am treated worse than a trash bag unless money is needed for whatever inappropriate cause. This child seeks out people with money and forms relationships with them only to use them. Any advice would be much appreciated. I am so utterly disappointed.
    • DeniseR_ParentalSupport

      Chin up

      I can understand your frustration. It can be tough to sit by and

      watch as your adult child continues to use manipulation and misrepresentation

      as a way to get his/her needs met. Many grandparents worry about the impact

      this type of negative behavior will have on their grandchildren. This in turn

      can affect whether or not firm limits and boundaries are put in place. The

      bottom line is your child is now an adult and is responsible for his/her own

      choices. S/he is also responsible for the care of his/her children, at least in

      part. While it’s understandable you would be concerned for your grandchildren’s

      welfare, allowing your child to continue taking advantage of you will not

      benefit anyone in the long run. It’s going to be important to determine where

      your limits and boundaries are and find a way to hold firm once determined. It

      may be helpful to seek out someone who can help you figure out where your

      boundaries are, such as a counselor or therapist. Many people find it useful to

      work with a neutral third party since s/he would be able to help you  view the

      situation from a more practical position by removing some of the emotion. S/he

      would also be able

      to help you develop a plan for maintaining those boundaries when your child pushes

      back against them. The 211 Helpline would be able to offer you information on

      counselors, therapists, and other support services available in your community.

      You can reach the Helpline 24 hours a day by calling 1-800-273-6222. You can

      also visit them online at http://www.211.org/. I hope you

      and your family are able to move past these challenges. Good luck to you all

      moving forward. Take care.

  • LyndaB0224
    This website is a godsend for my husband and me.  We are so disturbed about the behavior our 13 year old son is exhibiting by stealing.  Right now, he is only stealing from other family members within the home but our fear is that if this behavior isn't eradicated soon,More this will grow to be a much larger issue that will involve law enforcement.  Like some of the other parents on this board, our son always denies that he ever did anything but we know it's him. He recently stole my husband's debit card to purchase a game online.  My husband didn't even realize he had the debit card and only found it while looking for money that was missing. Our daughter was missing her debit card and eventually ordered another one. When my husband found his debit card and money, he also found our daughter's debit card.  He never used the card but that is still quite unacceptable. He has consequences but he tries to act like nothing phases him or he doesn't care. There is no TV in his room, we've taken his phone, and his tablet. My husband has made him do manual labor but nothing seems to work.  Last evening I told him that the next time money goes missing, we were going to start filing police reports and that seemed to shake him up a bit but you never know with him.  I am going to be contacting friends of ours who are cops and trying to get their assistance.  Any advice would be helpful.
    • RebeccaW_ParentalSupport


      Thank you for writing in; I’m pleased to hear that you have

      found our website helpful for your situation.  Stealing can be a troubling

      issue to address for many families, and as you see here, you are not alone in

      dealing with this.  In terms of your response, it sounds as though you are

      on the right track.  We frequently talk with parents about having a child

      do extra chores or work around the house in order to hold him accountable and

      pay back money that was stolen.  Another natural consequence for stealing

      is calling the police and filing a report, so we encourage you to follow

      through on doing this if you find money missing in the future.  One

      additional step we encourage you to do is to have a http://www.empoweringparents.com/the-surprising-reason-for-bad-child-behavior.php with your son about what he was thinking right before he took

      the money, and how he will handle a similar situation in the future.  It’s

      also helpful to keep in mind that it’s common for teens to take on an “I don’t

      care” attitude, so it’s going to be more effective to focus on changing his

      behavior rather than changing his attitude.  I realize how frustrating

      this situation can be, and I hope that you will continue to write in and let us

      know how things are going for you and your family.  Take care.

      • LyndaB0224

        RebeccaW_ParentalSupport LyndaB0224 

        Thank you so very much for your response.  We have taken your advice and advised everyone in the family that from now on, we will be filing police reports when we determine that money is missing. This seemed to get our son's attention and I think it gave him pause.  I'm not sure for how long it will be but we haven't had any money missing since we made this announcement. This is not an idle threat and I'm afraid he's going to wait until he thinks things have cooled down to try it again.  I will keep you updated.

  • tiredofbeingtired
    Our son, who is 15, continues to steal money from us...and keeps denying it....only to admit it after long drawn out (emotionally exhausting) arguments.  In the past, I have taken items from him that he buys with the money, but often, there is nothing to return. He doesn't "need" anything,More and has more material things than most kids. We take away privileges, and it does not phase him. He is now getting into our safe, and stealing money that isn't even ours...but other siblings. He tells us all the time he is sorry.....but the stealing continues.  We cannot leave him home for one minute alone....afraid he will be looking for money.  He has a part time job, and is given some of his money to spend on whatever he wants, the rest is put into savings.  We are at our wits end.  How can we change this behavior? Help me please.
    • Marissa EP


      It can be frustrating when your child is stealing from you

      with no understanding as to why. Stealing is often a result of http://www.empoweringparents.com/the-surprising-reason-for-bad-child-behavior.php around how to get something a child wants. It would

      be helpful to take a look at what types of things your son is buying with the

      money he is stealing. Are they big-ticket items or things he just doesn’t want

      to spend his own money on? We recommend

      having a problem-solving conversation with your son, to help identify the cause

      of the stealing, and well as to make a plan of how he is going to avoid

      stealing in the future. It will also be important to make sure all money and

      valuables are stored away where he cannot access them until he has better

      problem-solving skills. As Carole Banks says in the above article, your son

      should never benefit from what he stole. It will be important to continue to

      take back, or at least take away, anything that has been purchased with stolen

      money. If that is not possible, you can still hold him accountable by having

      him pay back the money he took. You can do that by withholding allowance,

      taking it out of savings, or by having him “work off” the debt by doing tasks

      or chores for the person he stole from. To motivate him to pay that money back,

      try withholding a meaningful privilege, such as his cell phone or computer

      time, until that debt is paid off. If the stealing continues after that, you

      can also let him know that you will call the police and file a report. Best of

      luck to you and your family and let us know if you have any more questions.

  • frusterated13
    I have a 13 yr old son that stole 400 dollars from me. Went and spent it all. I was able to take back a watch and some clothes, however two expensive items he bought from the pawn shop at 120.00 a piece. Non refundable. I just don't know whatMore to do. He lives with no consequences, he just does. When punished he screams and says he hates this place. Punched holes in walls and doors. Please help.
  • hnolson1983
    I have a 14 year old son who took my credit card and used it at convenience stores and McDonald's to buy food and drinks for him and his friends I expect they were high should I call the police.
    • DeniseR_ParentalSupport


      It can be tough to decide how to respond when your child steals

      from you. Calling the police is one possible option to consider. It may be

      helpful to contact your local police department at their  non-emergency

      number to find out how they would respond as well as what help they may be able

      to offer you in this situation. You could use this worksheet to outline your

      questions before you make the call: http://www.empoweringparents.com/images/police_intervention_worksheet_for_parents.pdf. Another option you might consider is having your

      son pay back the amount he charged, either by withholding allowance, utilizing

      any savings he may have, or by having him “earn” it by doing chores and tasks

      around the home. You may need to withhold a privilege in order to motivate him

      to follow through and complete the tasks. I hope this helps to answer your

      question. Be sure to check back to let us know how things are going. Take care.

  • Luisar33
    My daughter is 9 years old she was caught stealing from her grandmother's purse the first time she made her brother who is 6 do it but this time her grandmother caught her this has occurred at her dads house he says her behavior is getting worse that she doesn'tMore listen n gets mad over everything n crys she spends most of her time there I usually have her 3/4 days out of the wk when she's here she's good she has her moments but not the way he describes her I want to find a solution to help her and for it to set in not just punish her since this isn't the first time I feel if we don't figure this out it can become worse as time passes Idk how to go about this with out her feeling she's the bad one n she's always in trouble .. the last time was before Christmas so in my house there was no gifts in her dads house there was but since it happened again I'm not sure how to go about it .
    • Marissa EP


      Thank you for taking the time to write in. Stealing

      can be a frustrating behavior to deal with, and even more so when the behavior

      is happening outside your home, while your daughter is at her dad’s home. It is

      important to understand that stealing is often a child’s way of solving a

      problem, such as wanting money or other item, and not having any other means to

      obtain it. We would first recommend having a problem-solving conversation with

      your daughter to help understand what she was hoping to obtain by stealing, and

      then figuring out with her a more appropriate way she can handle the situation.

      This might be doing some extra chores to earn the money, or helping grandma

      with some yard work, for example. Any consequence and amends should happen at

      dad’s house, since that is where the stealing is occurring, and as Carole Banks

      says in the above article, kids should never benefit in any way from what they

      have stolen. Have your daughter pay back

      the money or give back the item she stole, then have her share with grandma

      what her plan is the next time she wants something, instead of stealing it. Best

      of luck to you and let us know if you have any more questions.

  • mandajake
    My son is 15 and my daughter is 14. My son has gone into our bedroom while we are at work and taken things; i.e. a pocket knife that belonged to my husband's grandfather, a bowie knife, collectible coins, jewelry belonging to my husband, and other random items. My daughterMore takes my clothing and make-up. I've explained to her that she's welcome to use/borrow anything I have, but she needs to ask so I will know the whereabouts of items.  She continues to take without asking. We caught my son because he texted pictures of the items to his friend. We talked to him, followed the advice given, all to no avail. We are considering putting a lock on our door, but I'm not completely at ease with this as I have always been an "open door" parent. If there's anything they wanted or needed, it's up for discussion and I don't want them to feel like criminals. Things are strained enough with the "teenage years" occurrences, but hunting down our belongings is getting tired. Do you recommend parents putting a lock on their bedroom door?
    • RebeccaW_ParentalSupport


      We hear from many parents who struggle with this issue in

      their home, and wonder about putting locks on doors and the message that might

      send.  You are not alone in this situation.  It sounds like you have

      tried to address this issue with your kids by setting limits and talking with

      them about how to follow the rules, and that has not been enough to change

      their behavior at this point.  One thing we talk about frequently is that

      you are going to be most effective if you focus on where you have control, namely

      your own actions and responses.  While you cannot control whether your

      kids implement the different strategies you discuss, you do have some control

      over http://www.empoweringparents.com/Its-Never-Too-Late-7-Ways-to-Start-Parenting-More-Effectively.php they have to continue with their current

      behavior.  In that aspect, by locking your bedroom door you are helping

      your kids to learn how to manage their impulses by cutting down the chances

      they have to break your rules.  Something else to keep in mind is that, if

      you choose to do this, it doesn’t have to be a permanent decision.  As

      your kids demonstrate that they are able to control themselves and their

      impulses, you can recognize that by making a different choice. 

      Ultimately, though, the choice is yours to make, and we would love to hear back

      from you about how things are going for your family.  Take care.

  • DeniseR_ParentalSupport

    Nick Law

    I am sorry to hear you are facing

    such troubles at home. Since we are a website aimed at helping parents develop

    more effective ways of responding to their child’s acting out behavior, we are

    unfortunately unable to offer you guidance in your situation. There is a

    website available you may not be aware of that is aimed at helping adolescents,

    teens, and  young adults who are dealing with difficult issues. http://www.yourlifeyourvoice.org/Pages/home.aspx

    offers many different ways of accessing support, such as online forums, e-mail

    or text support, and a call in service through the Boys Town National Hotline

    (1-800-448-3000). Help is available 24 hours a day by phone and at various

    times throughout the day by http://www.yourlifeyourvoice.org/pages/ways-to-get-help.aspx#text-info. I encourage you to reach out to one of

    the specially trained counselors for assistance with your situation. Good luck

    to you moving forward. Take care.

  • Jessica
    My 9 year old daughter has been stealing from others at school nothing big just snacks small items like paper dolls, stealing candy from school fundraisers and out of the kitchen where it was put up for Easter. She also sneaks clothes out of the house for instance she wasMore told to wear her tennis shoes jeans and a shirt for spring pictures( it was chilly still) so she put her dress shoes, and favorite stretchy pants in her book bag ( really looked awful) and changed at school. She hides her bad grades tears up her brother and sisters stuff just because she wants to. Tears up clothes that she doesn't like. She lies all the time, if I asked her what color the grass was I swear that child would tell me it's purple. My other two kids 12 and 8 are not perfect but they do learn from their mistakes and punishments, she acts like she doesn't care. I have tried everything I can think of and read about this has been going on and getting worse for two years. I try making a big deal when she does good things, but they are fewer and far between. She can be mean to others even physical. I don't know what to do. Talking to her doesn't work and I am at my wits end.
    • RebeccaW_ParentalSupport



      easy to feel overwhelmed and lost when you have a child engaging in troubling

      behaviors, and it doesn’t appear as though anything is working to stop

      it.  Many parents find it helpful in this type of situation to take some

      time to assess both the child’s behavior, and the parent response.  As

      Sara Bean describes in her article, http://www.empoweringparents.com/how-to-improve-your-childs-behavior-and-regain-control-as-a-parent.php, it can be useful to narrow your focus on just

      your top concerns, and to set aside other behaviors for the time being. 

      From what you have written, the most effective place to start might be

      respecting property and treating others in a non-abusive way.  For more

      information on addressing these behaviors, check out http://www.empoweringparents.com/is-your-defiant-child-destroying-or-damaging-property.php and http://www.empoweringparents.com/is-your-child-screaming-pushing-and-hitting.php  I appreciate how stressful this must

      be for you, and I hope that you will write back to let us know how things are

      going for you and your family.  Take care.

  • piyu

    My name is Priya, i am new on this blog,i am a working women. i have 8years old daughter. i am only mother to handle all the things of her. she is really a best daughter in the world.
    i want guidance from you. i want to become her bestMore friend like she can share all the things with me.
    so how can i behave with her?? actually i thought that she is hiding somethings from me and she is fearing to me.      

    what i do??? please reply...

    • DeniseR_ParentalSupport


      A lot of parents become concerned when their child seems to pull

      away or withdraw. It’s normal to want the relationship to return to how it was.

      It can be helpful to realize that relationships do change over time. It’s also not unusual for kids to hide

      things from their parents, especially in situations that involve behaviors such

      as stealing or rule breaking. It is going to be important to recognize that

      while a parent can do fun things with

      their child and behave in ways that are friendly, a parent shouldn’t try to be

      their child’s friend, as Janet Lehman explains in her article http://www.empoweringparents.com/why-you-cant-be-your-childs-friend.php. It is our job as

      parents to help our children develop the necessary skills that will help them

      become successful adults. We can do this more effectively if we maintain a

      position of authority within the household. As Janet points out in the article,

      when we put ourselves on the same

       level with our child by acting like a friend, we not only diminish our

      authority, it also effects how our child views other adults as well. This in

      turn can affect how she interacts with teachers and others in authority. We do

      have another article that may also be helpful for your situation:  http://www.empoweringparents.com/Your-Child-is-not-Your-Friend.php. I hope this information is

      useful for your situation. We appreciate you writing in and wish you and your

      daughter the best of luck moving forward. Take care.

  • Hello!  I am new to this blog.  I have 9 year old twins, a boy and a girl.  I was informed today by the principal of their school that my daughter had her brand new Ugg boots stolen by a student in her class who then proceeded to wear theMore boots to school this morning while telling everyone that her mother bought them for her yesterday.

    By the end of the morning, the child confessed that she had taken the boots.

    My daughter received these (very expensive) boots from my parents for her Christmas gift.  I do not allow my daughter to wear the boots outside because I didn't want them ruined.  They now have salt and snow stains all over the bottom.  I would like the parents to replace my daughter's boots.  

    The principal called the girl's parents.  I feel that I need to also call the girl's parents to talk to them about this issue.  

    I have heard through the grapevine that this girl's parents are not the best parents and are very poor.  They are living in a house that they have trashed and do not pay rent. They also smoke and drink in the house with their children.  

    I need advice.  Should I just talk to the child or should I try pursuing these parents?  Thank you.

    • DeniseR_ParentalSupport

      I am so sorry to hear your young
      daughter had her new boots stolen and ruined by one of her classmates. I can
      only imagine how upsetting that must have been for her. From what you have
      written, it sounds like the principal responded favorably and was able to get
      the boots backMore pretty quickly.  I am glad to hear the school was so
      supportive of your daughter and family. As for whether or not you should
      contact the girl’s family, I believe that is going to be a judgment call on
      your part. It is understandable you would want restitution for the damage that
      was done to the boots. I’m not sure exactly what steps you could take in order
      for that to happen. You might consider contacting legal counsel to find out
      what options for recourse are available in your  area.  The 211 Helpline
      may be able to give you information on legal services in your community. You
      can contact the 211 Helpline 24 hours a day by calling 1-800-273-6222 or by
      logging onto http://www.211.org/. We wish
      you the best of luck moving forward. Take care.

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