Stealing

Stealing

            Do you have a child who steals in your class? There are many reasons why children might steal, so the first step is to try to identify why. Try to set aside any of your personal emotions about stealing. Young children do not steal because they are bad, but rather because they don’t have the skills they need or the ability (yet) to make good choices. Always consider what you can be teaching the child when problem behaviors occur.

            A child might steal because he wants something very badly and cannot resist the temptation to take it. As we know, adults often have trouble with this too! There are two approaches that can help. The first is to help the child understand the social ramifications of stealing – that it hurts other people. Developmentally, children do not easily consider what others are feeling and need scaffolding to understand this. Also, some children might live in an environment in which adults or older children that they care about do steal. It’s important to emphasize that in your classroom, children are part of a community that cares about each other. Remind children of how important the rule is to not hurt each other.
            The second approach is to help children develop impulse control so that when they are in the position to want something badly, they have the skills to resist. For example, you can teach children self-talk such as “I really want that, but it’s not mine. I need to find something else to do.” Children can role play being in such a situation and practice using the self-talk statements. You also might want to help the children create a scripted story about resisting stealing because it hurts other people. You can put this together into a booklet and read it at group times, and have it available for children to read on their own.
            Strategies for Handling Stealing
·         Examine your own emotional reaction to stealing
·         Identify why the child is stealing
·         Help child understand that stealing hurts others
·         Help children to build impulse control skills using self-talk and scripted stories

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