The aim of responsible parents is to provide proper guidance to their children with the hope that they grow to be honest and sensible adults. As children grow there will be inevitable challenges for parents and there will be inescapable instances when a child will lie to you or even steal from you, their friends, or total strangers. Of course, stealing habits should be discouraged at younger ages, so that honesty becomes internalized. The challenge for parents is knowing what steps to take to so that honesty is internalized.
Let Your Feelings Settle First
Overreacting to your child's actions causes more harm than good. Parents who are caught up with their emotions tend to spank their children hard until the irritation has subsided. It is important that you wait for your emotions to settle before facing your child. This way, you will be able to solve the problem in a calm and sane way. If there is a need for physical punishment, make it quick and light as possible. Remember that you are not there to judge but to stand as a guide.
Help the Children Understand that They have Made a Mistake
Children should understand that you are disappointed with their actions. They should understand that you are mad about what they have done but do not love them any less. Let them realize that stealing is bad. Talk to them while looking straight in their eyes (in a room without any distractions). Studies show that young children do not have the same abilities to reason as adolescents and teens; this means they often see things as all or nothing. This is why parents must reinforce the idea that the child is still loved but the action was bad; otherwise children will feel that they are bad and unlovable.
Let the Child Realize the Consequences
After instilling that they have made a mistake, let them understand that stealing has a consequence. Tell them that stealing hurts other people's feelings and also destroys their relationships with other people. When they steal from their siblings or their parents, they end up losing the family's trust. When they steal from their friend, they put their friendship in danger. When children realize that stealing has a punishment, they will watch their actions.
Let the Kids Return the Stolen Thing
When you catch your children stealing, make them return the item that they have stolen to the rightful owner. If there is a need to accompany your children to the owners, do it. Returning a stolen item acts as a lesson for them and teaches humility. Your presence is also needed sometimes to act as a referee when difficult scenarios happen.
Do not put Harsh Labels on the Children
Never attempt to speak harsh words or labels to your kids. Never tell them that you would disown them because of what they have done. Avoid making them feel that they put shame on the family. Bad language is unnecessary and abusive. Remember that in this situation, you hate your child's action not the child.
The actions you need to implement when you catch your child stealing are not easy; they instead require wisdom and strength. The act of discipline is hurtful to parents but it is necessary to ensure that our kids live to be good citizens.