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to take my son to the police station for stealing from me

(97 Posts)
Stealingson Mon 16-Dec-13 19:18:51

I really don't know what to do. In lots of ways my son is amazing - sweet and kind and works hard at school. He has lots of friends and a full, active life. He is 11 and in yr6.
Recently he and my older son saved up for a gaming computer which we built from scratch with them. They are into Minecraft and other games like many boys their age. All of his friends are heavily into gaming too. A month or so ago he asked if he could buy a game online which cost £12 (payment goes through paypal). I said he couldn't spend that much as he needs to save his money for Christmas presents etc. We agreed he could spend £6 on another game that he wanted and no more. I had to go out then so I told my partner to put my paypal password in for him when he was ready and that no more than £6 was to be spent. While I was out a paypal notification flashed up on my phone that £12 had been spent. When I got home I queried with my partner about the amount and he said that my son hadn't asked him to put the password in. So after much interrogation it transpired that my son and managed to memorise my password and had just bought the £12 game thinking I wouldn't notice. I was utterly furious and he was immediately grounded and banned completely from the computer for 2 weeks. He seemed suitably sorry and promised to never do it again.

Fast forward to this evening. I couldn't find my phone anywhere. I turned the house upside down looking for the damn thing. Son is on the computer this whole time. The only place I hadn't been was my bedroom so I didn't bother look there. I actually thought someone must have come into the house and stolen the phone. Anyway dp eventually hands me the phone and says it was next to my bed the whole time. I swear I hadn't been in my room - weird! I check the phone and there is a paypal notification that £12 has been spent on a gaming site. He admitted he'd bought a game. I'm gobsmacked. On top of this he had moved my phone to my bedroom thinking I wouldn't see the paypal notification.

He won't talk to me now. I have told him how serious this is. What should I do. I want to march him to the police station and have them give him a telling off. I'm scared this may escalate to bigger things as he gets older. He seems to think he is entitled to steal. I don't know what I've done wrong. I know part of the problem is his obsession with the computer - we really limit the time he spends on it and try to keep things balanced. About 3 years ago our nanny caught him stealing a sweet in a shop. I think he has a problem.

AmberLeaf Wed 18-Dec-13 13:12:59

I think Alibaba has a very good point.

tinkertaylor1 Tue 17-Dec-13 21:14:20

ali what a load of crap!

Christmas is next WEEK and there is no harm what's ever in encouraging children to save!!

I did it with my dd from early age and she's great at it now.

Pah it's ops fault?? fgrin ( think some ones hit the baileys early ! )

Alibabaandthe40nappies Tue 17-Dec-13 09:51:30

OP You actually created the problem. He wanted to buy a game with his pocket money, and you said that he couldn't because he needed to save it for Christmas presents. He is 11, who does he need to buy for?

The whole point of pocket money is that it gives children control of a very small budget to buy the things they want. If they spend it all on one thing then they can't have another.
You are preventing him from learning that lesson for himself by retaining control of how he spends his own money.

I am not condoning his behaviour, far from it, but you need to examine your own part in this far more closely.

lottieandmia Tue 17-Dec-13 09:44:08

Taking him to the police for this is ridiculous - I agree with Pagwatch. You just need to make sure he knows he must never do this again. He really is not going to be a hardened criminal because he stole a sweet. I think it's all too easy for children to purchase stuff on iPads. My friend's 4 year old ds managed to spend £60 on iTunes when she wasn't looking.

Groovee Tue 17-Dec-13 09:35:40

I would change the password and the wifi password to not allow him access unless you have put the password in for him to connect to it.

It's the sneakiness of it, where he knows what he has done and has tried to hide it. That's what you need to work on with him. My 11 year old has been banned from electronics before and has been fine with his punishment but he has always asked if he can download stuff and we do it for it.

CeliaFate Tue 17-Dec-13 09:31:19

Change your password.
Ban him from the computer/internet for 2 weeks.
Household chores - make him a list and make him do them or the computer doesn't come back.
Say no to any more online gaming purchases.

My son is a fiend for the apps that are free initially but then cost £2.99 to get more coins. I did it twice, then had to refuse as he was asking weekly. I've told him I will never do it again and I mean it.

Anything password protected is just that - protected. He doesn't get to see me type my password in at any time and I change them periodically.

NoComet Tue 17-Dec-13 09:28:15

And 3x a week is hardly an addiction.

How long do we spend in here ?

NoComet Tue 17-Dec-13 09:26:55

The more you limit computer time and the more you try to control him, rather than offer choices the more time he will spend at his mates when he's older.

I've never known an 11 who spends a month's punishment thinking. Oh I'm in trouble for using DMs PayPal.

No! 11y spend 10 minutes thinking that was silly, shouldn't have done that and 30 days 23 hours and 50 minutes thinking DM is a cow for keeping me off my computer.

Result you have a DS who sulks all Xmas holidays.

A serious talking to and a one week ban, will be more effective (and less grief for his little brothers and you).

Honestly, he has been very stupid and I'd have been furious, and he would be paying me back.

But you did start it by trying to control how he spent his money.

cory Tue 17-Dec-13 09:24:20

It's all about proportion imo.

I am not in the "would never ring the police"-camp.

I absolutely would ring the police if I was subjected to violence from my 13yo- he is bigger and stronger than me and there is no way I could restrain him without risking serious injury to both of us. Letting him beat me up (if he was the type) would not be in his best interests and would not be the best way of demonstrating my love for him. If you are in a situation like that, I think there is no shame in admitting that you can't handle it.

But I really don't think an 11yo nicking a small sum of money does fall into that category. It is something you could and should be able to handle on your own as a parent. And as long as you can handle something without outside assistance, doing so helps your standing as a disciplinary force.

Plenty of good constructive advice on this thread. Let him earn it back, control his computer addiction. But don't assume that he is set out for a career of crime. Let him know you are worried because this is a serious problem, but also let him know you are convinced that now he realises how serious it is he won't do it again.

MoominsYonisAreScary Tue 17-Dec-13 09:01:34

It doesn't sound like the op went nuclear at all.

We had a similar problem with ds1 years ago, id ban him from the computer for at least 2 weeks, make him pay it back and get rid of the games.

Then sit him down for a chat about how serious the stealing is.

BMW6 Tue 17-Dec-13 08:57:56

iamgluezilla is living up to the name 100%! What absolute rot!

scottishmummy Tue 17-Dec-13 08:50:37

Can someone else watch the wee ones,you and ds go out,pizza.calmly talk
He talk,you listen. You talk he listen. Hear the content of each other and understand why you're both so hurt
Tell him what the appropriate time limited sanction is,and why.and then give him a hug

scottishmummy Tue 17-Dec-13 08:45:58

And tbh it's an enormous waste of police time and potentially too harsh
Police aren't their to reinforce your parenting,that's your should have the gravitas without police

IamGluezilla Tue 17-Dec-13 08:44:37

Pag. We'll agree to disagree.

ExcuseTypos Tue 17-Dec-13 08:43:28

OP "I know part of the problem is his obsession with the computer - we really limit the time he spends on it and try to keep things balanced"

Taking away all his computer things will break the habit and hopefully the obsession. I wouldn't let him have them back over the holidays. He will then have to find other ways to entertain himself.

struggling100 Tue 17-Dec-13 08:41:20

I like the idea someone suggested, of turning this into a learning experience by getting him to 'work' to make up the cost by doing chores. It seems to me that a critical stage in growing up is children realising that money doesn't grow on trees, but is the result of parents' hard work. If he realises that £12 takes over 3 hours to earn at £3.72 an hour (minimum wage for the under 18s I think??), then he might think twice about spending your money in future.

I also think it could be an opportunity to teach him about saving and budgeting. Perhaps get him to set a goal, and work out a savings plan that will allow him to achieve it. And monitor his budgeting each week until he understands that if he fritters cash away on little things, he won't be able to afford the big things that he really wants.

scottishmummy Tue 17-Dec-13 08:40:21

March an 11yo to police?no that's disproportionate and at that age he doesn't fully understand action and consequence
He'll no stealing us wrong of course,but will still have the compulsion and won't weigh up consequence
I'd have stern talk,set chores, and no pocket money until it's paid back

IamGluezilla Tue 17-Dec-13 08:38:34

Being angry with your child doesn't mean you don't love them
You've missed the point...again... I said the child would not experience the OP's anger as loving. From the sound of it she went absolutely nuclear. As a parent it is 100% her prerogative to instil boundaries through anger and installing fear, but she still has the teenage years to get through, and presumably will want to some level of influence on the adult child. If she shows that she just "goes off on" whenever something bad happens then she is teaching the child to not get found out ahead of teaching him how to act responsibly. Has she set an example of teaching? No, her example to he child is to get angry and throw your weight about. It is true that we are the parents, not friends- but by the same token we are also not enemies, and setting her child up to be in opposition to her unless be bows to Her Will is not a great strategy.

I would certainly hope they realise that love doesn't mean being happy with them 24/7.
I think upset, disappointment etc etc can be expressed in ways which reinforce the loving bond between parent and child. But feel free to disagree.

Pagwatch Tue 17-Dec-13 08:30:40

To be honest gluezilla, it would have just been easier if you hadn't posted mawkish guff about the ops son not feeling loved in the first place.
All this nonsense you are having to post to justify having just been nasty is all a bit cringy.

IamGluezilla Tue 17-Dec-13 08:28:19

Sorry half posted there. Will retry.

IamGluezilla Tue 17-Dec-13 08:27:32

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

KepekCrumbs Tue 17-Dec-13 06:47:57

Once you've dealt with it and punished him, why not have a good chat about how you and his dad can give him some more positive attention and wean him away from gaming a bit? Special outings for him occasionally, board game when littlies are in bed, a joint hobby with one of you, that kind of thing? It's so easy for the weeks to go by without you realising that the child on the computer is seeing so much less of you than he used to do.

MiniMonty Tue 17-Dec-13 03:40:45

1) pinching a sweet is no big thing - forget that - it's nothing.

2) using your account at his age to buy games is a different story because he does know the difference between right and wrong (and is over the age of criminal responsibility in England) so contrary to what other posters might pretend to know about, the truth is that the Police WILL turn up, they WILL take an interest and they WILL deliver him a serious talking to (at least). Theft is a serious business.

3) Get on top of this double fast - get a conversation going spending other people's money, about trust and about being honest (and the obvious SERIOUS consequences of getting that wrong).

Presumably the boy does chores and earns pocket money in return - if this is not true then make it true VERY QUICKLY.

KNOW THIS AS AN ABSOLUTE: Kids can only learn the value of anything if they have to earn something. If it's all on a plate they can only learn to take and take. YOU are the parent, you much teach them how to live in the world.

Enough said I think.

Otherwise I may rant... : )

NigellasDealer Tue 17-Dec-13 02:22:41

....*In fact I suspect that if you wasted police time taking an eleven year old to the station that the police might order you to take a parenting course*
yes and you will be flagged up to the "public protection officer" who works with SS.
just saying.

sykadelic15 Tue 17-Dec-13 02:08:55

@Gluezilla - you're supposed to be parents, not friends. Being angry with your child doesn't mean you don't love them, and I would certainly hope they realise that love doesn't mean being happy with them 24/7. Of course you don't just yell and threaten. You explain how you feel, why you feel that way, talk to them about what they did, the consequences of those actions, etc etc.

For me it's not the theft, it's the deception. The hiding of the phone and the fact he didn't learn the first time even seeing how it upset you that first time.

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