my son is stealing from family - again(30 Posts)
A year ago, I caught my son stealing small amounts of money from me and confiscated his TV and PS3 as punishment.
He has recently turned twelve. A few weeks ago, I started finding my purse open in my bag and empty (neither is unusual but it was happening a lot).
The next thing to go missing was ten pounds, then five pounds, then two lots of ten pounds from his grandma.
He was using the money to buy himself match attax.
I have cleared everything from his room except furniture and clothes to teach him to appreciate what he has. He will be paying us both back from his pocket money to realise just how much he has stolen. He will be grounded for two weeks (in his empty bedroom) to realise that I can't trust him to go out of the house wihout supervision. I took him to the shop he was spending the money in to tell the owner I had banned him from going in and why so that he would feel the shame of being known to be a thief. He, of course, had to apologise to granny. Is that enough? Is that too much?
Since you mention he gets pocket money, I assume he wasn't stealing to keep up with his friends, since he has money to buy things himself. Personally I wouldn't have told the shopkeeper, but I would have made him apologise to family and done as you did.
I think that's fine.
If it helps my brother and I would take the odd £1 from my dm's purse for years (never £notes though-bound to get caught) and we're both moral now-I've not stolen anything since then!
Let him know that if he steals again you'll take him to the police station? Suggest he gets a paper round (if practical) if he wants spending money?
Not sure how grounding in empty bedroom is going to work if he literally doesn't have anything to do there. Give him some chores maybe, as part of paying back what he stole? Even in jail i think they're allowed a book to read!
What does he say? Does he understand what a stupid thing he did?
he doesn't seem bothered at all. I talked to him about theft being wrong because it hurts the people you steal from and because it's illegal. I described prison and he seemed to like the sound of it. he said that he knew I wouldn't phone the police so it didn't matter.
Maybe you should call his bluff and see if you can get a PCSO round to talk to him?
If he does it again I would call his bluff and ask the police if someone can come and talk to him.
How about Christmas? This might sound harsh but can you tell him he is getting less/no presents as he has stolen the money that would have bought them? (even if you have bought them already)
I think his lack of remorse would hurt me the most.
Leave it for a few days, give him chores to do (small piles of ironing? Pairing socks?) and emphasise that doing these chores are conditional for him having his debt repaid. Money is one thing- the pain of lack of responsibility the other- and doing chores shows he takes responsibilities seriously.
But how do you show someone that stealing is wrong? Do you think he is being defensive and is just saying he doesn't care? Maybe police videos where victims talk about being stolen from?
he is currently drying the dishes but coming back and forwards to me asking if we can this or that and looking over my shoulder. I've said that, if he steals again, I will report him to the police. and I will though he thinks I won't. I like the videos of victims of theft talking about the pain of being stolen from. I was wondering if there was such a thing as a video of people talking about how horrible young offender's prisons are.
once he'd dusted and hoovered his room, I allowed him one book. I'll swap it when he finshes it.
Def march him to the police station next time. My mum's friend did this with her dd. the police officer was amazing and really frightened the girl. Never stole again.
the police station is definitely the next step. I've said that, if he breaks any of the rules of his grounding, I'll report the thefts.
I hope I don't have to go that far.
My dad was a police officer, he said he once gave a caution to a young teenage girl for something reasonably 'petty' (in the wide scheme of things), her parents bought her in and she was all lippy and confident - but she actually fainted during the caution! In DF's defence he said it was a hot room on a hot day and he really isn't a scary man But he always said that for all the confidence some kids can pretend to have, getting a talking to from a police officer sometimes can feel scary and serious and often nips things in the bud at a young age.
nellybluth: I considered cancelling or reducing Christmas but could-ct face it. I have decided on no advent calendar and, until his grounding's over, no Christmas decorations.
I remember nicking some coins, buying sweets with a friend when my mum caight us! She made us return the sweets to the shop, and explain to the shopkeeper why we had to return them ( cause we had bought them with stolen money). will never forget that day!
I think there is one thing you have forgotten, though. have you sat down with nim and had a chat with him about WHY he did it? If there is anything that bothers him? A chat with no recrimations and telling him why it was wrong, but a chat where you mainly listen???
At this age there is lots of stuff that bothers kids. At the time, I was bullied and stuffing myself with sweets made me feel good. I was unhappy. My parents never asked me WHY I did it though. Once I was 11 nobody ever asked me what bothered me ( lots of worries at that age, I also thought I was abnormal and ugly....ah, those early teenage years, and I had nobody to talk to about these things)
That's a good point. I have asked him - several times in several ways. He says he doesn't know why he stole the money.
I tried asking him what he was thinking about when he actually took the money and he says just that he didn't want to get caught.
Looking at the number of Match Attax I found hidden in his room, it appears that all of the money was spent on them and not used to buy friends (he actually has a really good group of friends) or to pay off bullies. We talk a lot about his friends and other children in his class and there have been no changes in how he talks about anyone. Also, his best friend would definitely tell HIS mum if anything was bothering my son. He told his mum how much money my son was spending but she didn't believe him because she knew there was no way I would be giving him ten pounds at a time to spend on these cards.
I explained that stealing is wrong because it's illegal but also because it hurts others.
I just don't know what's going on in his head. I want him to open up but it's not his way.
You've made your point- continue with your punishment and hopefully he'll understand once the punishment is over. You cannot make someone see something if they're not ready to.
The only thing I would say, is be really descriptive in how you felt when you realised it was him who had taken your money- how hard you work for money so you can provide for him, and that horrible stomach turning feeling when someone you love and care about hurts you.
You don't have to lay it on thick, just enough for him to think about what he's done.
What have you done with the match attax?
I think you've handled this really well. And I know 12 year olds - just because he's not showing much in the way of remorse doesn't mean it isn't eating him up inside.
Bide your time, stick to the plan and see what happens. Any more incidents - get the police to put the fear of God into him.
slambang: I binned them and told him I had.
thanks for the ideas and support. I really thought I'd nipped this in the bud last time. this has felt like a slap in the face.
I work in secure care, if he wants to know what it's like do the following: take away his pillows and duvet cover and replace with plastic, give him meals made with unidentifiable ingredients, cornflakes (value) with uht milk and no sugar for breakfast. Bunk beds in a room no bigger than a boxroom, menial labour for 8 hours for 50p a day, never being called your name-just a number (I.e hf34267). Wearing second hand faded jogging bottoms and top. Prison sounds great!
elkieb - i asked him who the scariest kid in his school is and said being in YOI would be like living with a few hundred of him. maybe it is just bravado to try to reverse-psych me into backing down.
It does sound like bravado but it still sounds like an odd thing to do. Is there a magistrates court you can take him to? The public can watch cases. Maybe showing him what lands you in prison (surprisingly little in some cases), and the kind of people who are there may shock him?!
DH's mum arranged for a policeman to come round and speak to him about stealing, he was taking sweets from the local shop. Presumably the policeman wasn't being diverted from important duties/was off duty), but it put the fear of god into DH and he never stole again. I dunno if, if you spoke to your local police station maybe they could do something similar?
I would have to wonder why he was so brazen about this. Did he really think he would get away with spending that much money in front of friends and get away with it? Did he not expect his friends to mention it to their parents? Did he not expect you or his grandmother to miss such large amounts of money?
I am not sure that a 12 year old would really expect this to go undiscovered.
I think you are right to come down on him like a ton of bricks for this but. at the same time, I think you need to make a big effort to find out whether something is bothering him.
This could be a cry for help or it could be that his self-esteem is so low that he needed to do something to make himself feel good. The fact that he is so dismissive of your attempts to make him understand what he has done is quite worrying.
Can you find some talking time, perhaps while you complete some tasks together. You could ask him about his emotions through this. How did he feel when taking the money and buying the Match Attax? How did he think his friends felt when he was buying them? How did he feel when he realised he had been caught. Try really hard to get a handle on his emotions rather than telling him what is right or wrong because you've already done that bit.
I'm not saying this isn't just about greed but I think you owe it to him and yourself to make very sure this isn't a symptom of something else.
I found myself in the same situation as you at the beginning of the year with my 12 yr old ds. I ended up going down the police route and it was the best thing I ever did.
They were so good, asked him why he was doing it, was he being bullied etc He was told about the consequences he could face, shown a cell and it was explained to him that he was there because his parents care about him and do not want him to get into trouble.
Like you every time it happened we couldn't get through to him. It was water off a ducks back. Sometimes it just takes someone else to show them what cous happen.
I felt awful speaking to the police but now I'm so glad. He has never stolen since. Please do it!
Right, I have emailed the community policing team this morning and am waiting to hear back. It's time to scare him...
I have asked, loads of times, in a calm way what he was thinking, how he was feeling, how does he feel now and all i get is I dunno.
Good luck, it sounds like you are handling it well. I think you are doing the right thing. This could easily be the last time he does something like this. Make sure that he knows once he has completed his punishments that you will put this incident behind you. Be vigilant, but don't let this hang over him.
In regards to getting police involved - his school should/might have a school liaison officer that you could get in touch with. We often use out slo to talk to individual children about stealing/hitting etc. hth
TBH, I'm not sure how comfortable I would be speaking to the school about this - they stream students and I don't know how being viewed as a problem behaviourally would affect which stream he went into.
I spoke to our school psychologist who suggested that taking his pocket money off him until he'd paid back the money he stole could backfire by driving him to steal again. She said to get him to pay us back by doing jobs instead. I started that off tonight by telling him the new plan and that he would be doing the washing up. He went upstairs "for a minute"and promptly fell asleep! I came very close to waking him and sending him down to do the washing up but I think I'll leave them for him to do in the morning. We only had a light supper so there isn't much to do.
quick update: the community officer has just been and spoken with my son who is now not speaking to me. I'm hoping this means he's starting to realise what he's done and that he's in the wrong because his behaviour over the past couple of days has been horrendous.
thanks for all your suggestions / messages of support - I'll update at the weekend.
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