Lately, my seven-year-old has been taking money from my wallet and loose change he finds around the house. I’ve told him it’s stealing and not to do it anymore, but it’s still going on. How can I get him to stop?


You need to find out what he’s doing with the money. He might be spending it, saving it or giving it away. Knowing will help you figure out why he’s stealing and how to handle it. He might be using the money to garner friends or popularity at school. A sibling may have received something special from you and he may be feeling jealous or left out. Keep in mind that at his age, he probably won’t be able to fully understand the moral and psychological results of stealing; emphasize that you find his behaviour unacceptable without shaming him, and tell him that if it continues, there will be consequences. For example, you could estimate how much money he’s stolen and work out a way he can pay it back.

Kids sometimes want something from parents that has more to do with emotional than material needs, such as more one-on-one time. Try to find regular time to do something together that you both enjoy.

Written by Dr Ruwa Sabbagh. Originally published in Today’s Parent, September 2009.

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