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To not threaten 5yo DS with the police?

(34 Posts)
RedButtonhole Sat 29-Nov-14 00:48:41

And how else can I get through to him?

He occassinaly brings things home from school that don't belong to him. Silly things- today it was a mini stack of post-its, before that it was a small digital timer. He doesn't try
to hide it from me at all, I remove the item and make sure he returns it to it's rightful owner (teacher). I make sure to tell him that stealing is wrong, it's not nice to take things that are not our own without asking etc etc. that i upsets people/makes them sad but I don't seem to be getting through. I try not to get shouty or cross because I feel he would be very secretive with me then, I'd rather be in the loop.
I don't like to threaten him with "the policeman will come and take you to jail" because:
1. I think children should be happy and comfortable with the police, not teeri

SnowSpot Sat 29-Nov-14 00:52:37

Can I give you a counterintuitive solution?

My DD went through a horrible stealing phase (age 6-7ish). I tried so many ways of disciplining her, making her take the thing back to the place she took it from etc.
I realised that I hadn't ever really given her control over little things she'd like to buy. So I started giving her a bit of pocket money - about £3 a week. We'd then go to the poundshop and she'd be able to buy all the crap her heart desired, or save up to get something she really wanted.

It stopped the thieving thing immediately.

Wh0dathunkit Sat 29-Nov-14 01:16:45

I went through a phase of stealing stuff from my parents. Eventually mum found out, and she burst into tears in front of me. It was enough to stop me. I don't know if I was an odd kid though - my brain couldn't process the empathetic side of things until I saw the effect they were having on the family...

SorchaN Sat 29-Nov-14 01:46:49

I second the pocket money idea.
I don't think it's helpful to engender fear of the police in small children.
Just my two cents...

mathanxiety Sat 29-Nov-14 01:58:28

Please do not threaten the police. It is really shortsighted. It's important to spread the idea that the police are friends and helpers.

I third (if that's a word) the pocket money idea.

RedButtonhole Sat 29-Nov-14 06:51:51

Wow, how tired was I when I wrote this, the last bit doesn't even make sense.

I was trying to say exactly what you have said mathanxiety. I want him to know that the police are someone who he can trust and who can help him if he is ever hurt or lost and I'm not there. I don't want him to feel frightened or threatened by them. I hate it when I hear people using the police as a threat.

He is quite immature and naive for his age and is not a bad child at all, I don't think that he fully gets that he's doing something wrong, he just sees the thing lying about and wants it.

I will try the pocket money thing though that makes sense and it's about time I taught him about money a bit anyway, thanks.

Rebecca2014 Sat 29-Nov-14 08:30:04

This reminds me of my little sister, my mum and dad used to threaten to call the police when she was naughty, she used to plead "Please don't call the police! please!" Still makes me laugh now.

Looking back now I realize that properly was not a good thing for my parents to do but it did work!

RedButtonhole Sat 29-Nov-14 09:54:06

Rebecca I know it works- a couple of mums I know it is there go-to response and it stops the children in their tracks. I'd love something as effective as that but I'd really prefer to find a way of getting through to him without empty threats as well- they don't work.

He has to know I will follow through on a threat for it to work, like toy confiscation or no tablet time.

PolterGoose Sat 29-Nov-14 10:03:54

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

ReggieJones Sat 29-Nov-14 10:33:45

Is there a reward system already at place at home or at school that can be used to deal with this?

SaucyJack Sat 29-Nov-14 10:42:14

Thirding the pocket money idea.

DD1 used to pilfer sweets from shops. I would give her a bollocking and made her take them back but the thing that stopped it was me getting the stick out of my arse over the evils of sugar and just letting her choose some sweets to buy every now and then.

motherofmonster Sat 29-Nov-14 11:20:07

The pocket money is a good idea.
I had the same issue with ds when he was little. And i know it sounds cruel but in the end i took something of his (his favourite teddy) and hid it on the wardrobe. He was looking for it, getting upset when i said oh dear, perhaps someone took it. He was upset as it was his. It seemed to get the message across. We had a chat about how he felt , and that that is how someone would feel when he took something that didn't belong to him. After we had talked he got teddy back.
Now before i get flamed and burnt at the stake, this wont work for all kids as up to a certain point empathy eludes alot of kids. So you have to use your judgement

mypoorbottee Sat 29-Nov-14 11:28:39

A visit from a community policeman for a "talk" works wonders.

Polter: Searching his bag and rewarding him for not having stolen property in it is a ridiculous idea. That just ends up rewarding for being able to hide his loot better.

ghostspirit Sat 29-Nov-14 11:50:39

i dont think the pocket money thing is such a good idea. i think its rewarding for not stealing when should not be doing it in the first place. saying that but if it works maybe its not doing any harm.

my son stole from a shop once i noticed when we got out. i made him take it back and say sorry. it never happend again.

few weeks back when i was in my local shop we were at the till and 4 year old said mummy we can just take it we dont need to pay said it infront of shop keeper. so clearly she does not know what any of it means.

SnowSpot Sat 29-Nov-14 11:56:20

Ghostspirit - I didn't link the stealing directly to any 'reward'. I just told my DD (and did this too for my DS at the same time so it didn't look like I was favouring anyone - he was only 18 months!) that we needed to start doing pocket money as she was now a big girl. I did link it in with getting ready in the morning.

I just think that once she was allowed to choose some little treats for herself, suddenly the desire to steal went. I guess though, you could dock pocket money if they did steal though...

marnia68 Sat 29-Nov-14 11:57:24

I am sure if he is 5 years old , the kid knows by now what teh role of the police is.I think you have to take the 'stealing is wrong and will be punished stance'
How are you punishing him for thieving?
It is a bit disingenuous to make him think his teacher is weeping about the theft of post-it notes.

PolterGoose Sat 29-Nov-14 12:32:00

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

RedButtonhole Sat 29-Nov-14 13:24:37

Yes at 5 he knows the role of the police is to help people and keep them safe- I don't think I need to tarnish that view with threats of them taking him away from me and locking him in jail, it's heavy handed and idiotic to use the police to threaten children.

I punish him by removal of treats and privelages such as trips out or screen time. He also gets no stickers on his reward chart if he steals.

Where did I say I told him the teacher was crying over post it notes? confused I've explained to him that people get upset when their belonfings are stolen- is that not the truth?

I think I'm going to make his reward chart more pocket money orientated- so he'll get none for the day if he steals, but if he is generally well behaved and also does not steal he will have money to choose what he likes.

I still think it will take more than that to get through to him though, I would like him to learn that it's wrong not just forget to steal because he can buy his own things if that makes sense?

mathanxiety Sun 30-Nov-14 03:50:28

You could try to assess where he is in terms of appreciating the difference between 'mine' and 'not mine' when you see he has some item in his possession that you know comes from school. It may well be that he really hasn't yet got to the stage where he can understand this major difference. He really is very young still.

He is only at the start of a process (of understanding this difference between mine and yours) that he should have completed by age 7. If you ask him whose post-it notes these are and he says they are his, then you can gently probe and find out how they came to be his since he did not buy them and you did not give them to him. Just ask for assessment purposes initially, and you can interject the comment that perhaps he wishes an item was his but it isn't really his just because he wishes it. Remember though that children his age believe in Santa and magic.

Once he gets the idea that things he buys or things you give him are his (through using a little money to buy things he fancies, without comment from you even if you think he is choosing rubbish) then you can ask him who owns various things at home, his toys or your wooden spoons or dad's hat or the cat's bowl, etc. Gradually he will develop an understanding. Also, don't force him to share things that he owns, and if he asks for things that another child doesn't want to share when playing, help him to accept that 'no' answer and explain that everyone has a right to decide not to give, and while he is disappointed, he might prefer not to share or give too, one day.

Try to not make remarks about lovely things that other people have. Make sure you talk up your own stuff and his. Don't disparage other people's possessions, just don't bring up the topic. You never know how small children are interpreting or comparing when you talk about things other people have.

mathanxiety Sun 30-Nov-14 03:54:04

Understanding that it's objectively wrong takes a few years from the point he is at right now.

Don't panic! It takes a while to master impulse control and then to come to the level of understanding that will keep him from pocketing things. Just keep on plugging away.

Homebird8 Sun 30-Nov-14 06:04:59

When DS took something from a shop and we returned it together (he was about 2.5) the lady was lovely. She quite calmly and lovingly said to him that she could see that he was a clever boy and that she needed his help. It was his job to make sure that the shop's things stayed in the shop where they could sell them to customers. He accepted the responsibility very seriously and AFAIK never did it again.

I like the pocket money approach but this lovely lady's idea might help too if adapted to the situation and the age of your DS.

I agree about the police. It can get a bit like crying wolf and weakens his faith in the police to help him if they are used as a threat.

Well done. You sound lovely and your son will turn out just fine.

MrsGeorgeMichael Sun 30-Nov-14 06:41:26

OP this is a developmental "thing". I think its referred to as the child bringing home a "transitional object" from school to home (i bet he brings something from home to school, but you don't call that stealing iykwim.

mine oldest did it until he was about 6 - it was always something small and he took it back in the next day

have you chatted to the teacher (she might explain it better than me smile )

btw i am assuming he's not doing this in ASDA!

MrsGeorgeMichael Sun 30-Nov-14 06:43:02

i give up re spelling and grammar!
but hopefully you get the jist
i am away back to bed!

RedButtonhole Sun 30-Nov-14 09:30:29

Yes MrsGeorge I think you may have hit the nail on the head there! He has, from a very young age always taken a small object to nursery, school, daycare or whatever, and in fact used to get upset if he couldn't bring it with him (they were not allowed to bring things from home to nursery unless they left it outside in a tray) and he used to try and sneak things in... maybe this is a similar thing? The objects don't seem to be anything he particularly wants or is interested in- he hasn't talked about them at home since he first produced them. I might have a chat to his primary 1 teacher and headteacher (she worked quite closely with him in nursery) and see what they think. Thankyou!

mathanxiety Thankyou, your post is so helpful. I'll use some.of your suggestions to give him a better idea of "mine" and "not mine" and hopefully this will help him understand what is appropriate to bring home from school and what has to stay there and vice versa.

Homebird He has done it in a shop before but I made him take the object back and say sorry and both the shop assistant and I were gentle but firm with him about not taking things from shops without paying and he hasn't done it in a shop since. That's where what MrsGeorge was saying makes sense to me now- not that I'm trying to downplay what's happening, but I don't think he's really stealing because he wants the object, he just wants any object to take home, it's always been a bit of a security thing with him I think.

Homebird8 Sun 30-Nov-14 09:34:51

I think that in a year you'll be dealing with another aspect of his growth. This too shall pass, and as long as you're delivering kindly and corrective messages about growing into a lovely young man all will be well. Just send the things back with a firm but gentle "This belongs at school."

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