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11year old stealing!

(12 Posts)
afterthebath Wed 17-Oct-12 12:02:28

My 11yr old dd (nearly 12) has been stealing for a while. When we found pencils/rulers etc in her bag at her primary sch, which she had clearly taken from her classroom, we made her take them back to hand into her teacher. This stopped for a while, but she has now moved onto taking money from my purse. The last time she was very upset & swore she would never take again - but this morning I found out she had! Again - 'sorry, won't do it again'! I really am at a loss of what to do. We recently opened a debit account for her & put her pocket money into it, so she has access to her own money, as she goes to/from school on her own, I talked to her about buying sweets on way home - saying that I obviously can't stop her,but would rather she didn't each day as not healthy. I took away her purse this morning and itouch (which she isn't allowed during the week anyway), also took away her favourite 2 toys which she sleeps with.

Am going to sit down tonight with her & ask why she does it etc (but her stock reply has always been 'I don't know'....) just want some words of wisdom to help me go about it the right way.....?

rockinhippy Wed 17-Oct-12 12:25:05

Actually I disagree you CAN stop the sweets weekdays, your the parent, not her, you need to toughen up - mine knows sweets are weekend treats only & she has never argued with that as she knows she won't win & she is allowed them at YC mid week, but not allowed to bring them home & of course any parties etc, so we are fair, but ignoring would have them banned for the weekend too.

As for stealing, so far it doesn't sound as if you done that much to reprimand her, so as I say above I would suggest you need to up the anti a LOT on punishments - I'd be putting a block on EVERYTHING she enjoys for a months - no TV, no computer, no sweets, friends visiting, sleep overs, parties, remove toys etc etc, - its the ONLY way you are going to get through to her that stealing comes with heavy consequences - it will if she carries on & gets caught shop lifting, which she will if you don't do enough to teach & curb her behaviour now -

I suspect "I don't know" really translates to "because I can" - you need to "Mum Up" & change that mindset whilst you still can

Good luck smile

whatthewhatthebleep Wed 17-Oct-12 12:41:18

Not an easy situ.
I'm not sure it's good to be removing her 2 toys she sleeps with though...seems unrelated and may cause upset to her settling and sleep iykwim...

When my friends DS stole things she phoned the Police station and asked that if she brought him into the station, would an officer talk to him about what happens to thieves, etc..showed him the cells and made it very clear that he would be having to deal with the Police if he did it again...he was 12yrs at the time and it really worked. The Police officer was really good and explained well...just a pep talk, a bit of scaremongering, food for thought...brought the message home for him very clearly and he didn't steal again.

I'd be wondering if having a bank acc and these sort of responsibilities are maybe too much too soon for your DD...I'm not sure she should be taking a bank card with her to school and be in a position to make withdrawals and waste it on sweets. It sounds like she isn't mature enough to be making good choices about this and maybe should be more closely monitored with her.
11yrs is quite young still to be expected to be so mature and sensible imo.

I can see the need to punish your DD...perhaps not allowing purse and maybe giving her chores to 'work' off the stolen items/money to earn it back. Remove any money from her that equals what she has stolen from you, etc...I think it needs to be relevant loss to her and a lesson in values. I'd be pointing out that your position was now compromised due to the theft too...perhaps you are now unable to buy something because she has done this, etc

That you have always trusted her but this is making you have to think about things differently and it isn't how you want things to be...that you expect better from her and did not bring her up to behave in this way. That you love her very much but you are very disappointed by this behaviour from her. Try and get her to walk in a persons shoes when they find someone has taken something from her, would it make her feel? How can you help her to understand this and stop doing it again...ask her what she needs to happen

Good luck smile

bidibidi Wed 17-Oct-12 12:43:34

N/C for this.
Sympathy, I have had issues with DD (also 11), don't know if they are behind us.

I don't have the energy to get very angry about it, I'll freely admit.

I take an amends approach: she's done wrong so needs to do amends & once amends are done then we draw a line under it & move on. So in your situation it would be a case of 1) apology to me as the injured party, 2) being forced to talk about it & what was going thru her mind, & to listen to me talk about it (restorative justice), 3) paying £ back (maybe with some interest), and 4) possibly some other "work", like doing chores for free that might normally be paid. It's the same idea when courts impose community service orders as a punishment for criminal activity.

I hate mine having lots of sweets, too, but I don't understand why you are trying to stop her spending pocket money on sweets, I think that (waste) is a rite of passage she needs to get on with.

If it's any comfort I was a bit of a klepto myself at about the same age, sneaky enough that my parents only caught me once. I outgrew it. Similar with lots of other silly things I tried (ie, drugs).

With BFF, DD was caught trying to nick sweets in corner shop. She didn't have the street-smarts to lie about her name & phone number, though, so shopkeeper was able to contact me. I had DD apologise in person & in writing, plus she was docked £5 pocket money which we gave to the shopkeeper (who put it in a charity box). DD also wasn't allowed sweets or pudding for a month.

Worst thing for DD was the BFF became DD's spiteful mortal enemy for 6 weeks, although eventually relations settled into civil pleasantries. Not likely to ever be close again, though. I doubt DD is completely cured of her stealing impulses, but the whole family knows what she did. I think embarrassment & potential unintended consequences (like loss of a BFF) might be enough to have finally cured her. I have also talked calmly about criminal records, and what an incredibly unforgiving age we live in. She gets a caution for shoplifting now, & there are jobs she'll never be able to get, and she could have to explain the caution in many job applications for the rest of her life (like if she went into teaching). I think she might finally be just about mature enough to grasp why that's so very undesirable.

afterthebath Wed 17-Oct-12 13:55:47

Thank you all for your messages. Just want to clarify that she has only just got the bank card & I only give her about £8 per month pocket money. I tend to be on the stricter side & I am quite upset about all of this & want to deal with it sensibly - tempted re the police option - might save that as a 'if this happens again'.... As she has started at a new school, I don't know whether there is pressure from new friends to stop off at the shop on the way home, maybe she isn't mature enough to have a card etc.... the reason I took away her 2 toys is that is almost the worst thing for her! I will let you know how I get on!

ClareMarriott Wed 17-Oct-12 16:08:41

I agree that it is worth talking to her to find out exactly why she is stealing , you might find out that it is something to do with her new school or a case of if you have opened an account for her and put her pocket money into it, then she is taking the money from you Good luck

thegreylady Wed 17-Oct-12 19:01:27

Please dont take away her comfort toys-that moves from discipline to cruelty.
If she is stealing it is because she is unhappy-she knows you will find out so she is wanting some sort of attention from you-you need to work out what she wants.

afterthebath Wed 17-Oct-12 19:35:13

Well, had a long talk: doesn't know why she does it, won't do it again..... tbh, I have heard it all before. Asked if she would go into a shop & steal/take a friends bracelet etc & she said no, so I asked why it was ok to take money out of my purse. She is not going to go to Guides & has gone to bed at same time as younger sister. We have warned her that if this happens again, then we are telling her headmaster (who she likes & respects) and paying a visit to the police to see what they have to say! I understand what you say about comfort toys thegreylady, but there is not a lot we can take away from her. She doesn't watch tv during the week, rarely goes on the computer during the week (aside from homework) and as she is only 11, doesn't go out with friends in the evening. She does take on the appearance of the victim, which is frustrating. My husband took her to the cashpoint & she had to take out the equivalent money that she stole & give it to me - hopefully that will make her realise she had it anyway! I am trying my best here, and appreciate all your words of wisdom!

whatthewhatthebleep Wed 17-Oct-12 22:21:23

maybe she is missing having some of the things her friends at school have and do and talk about...beyond homework in the evening...what is she doing with herself if no TV, pc etc???

I wonder she is expected to be quite grown up and responsible (bank cards and travelling back and forth for school, etc) but on the other hand maybe isn't doing more things her friends are at this age ? Does she have a mobile phone, socialise and have friends around, outings with girlfriends, etc? I just wondered?

Is everything an organised thing, like Girl Guides, is she outside playing/hanging out much with friends, etc?
Could she be exerting power over something but it is in an inappropriate the stealing?
How much freedom and choices does she have and do you think she needs more of this sort of thing? it possible she is demonstrating like this and it could be linked with any of this?
Just a thought.....

ElinElin Wed 17-Oct-12 23:03:38

Could she be doing it for attention?

Halfcups Wed 17-Oct-12 23:23:15

I used to steal money from my parents and either hide it or spend it on sweets. With hindsight (I'm now 45, a head teacher and behaviour specialist!) I recognise that I was attention seeking. My parents were caught up in their hateful marriage and I was stuck in the middle of it all. Dreadful! I think it also gave me a sense of control. I think I wanted to punish my parents for behaving so badly and make them hurt just like I was. Could any of this apply to your daughters' situation...? Please don t take away the two toys that give her comfort when sleeping. That s cruel.

afterthebath Mon 22-Oct-12 22:15:37

I have given her her itouch back - I gave her the choice: toys or itouch & she chose the latter!!

She does have a phone. I must admit, most of her activities is controlled by me: she does Guides (loves it!) and an art class at the w/end. She is seeing lots of friends next week during half term.

I know all children steal and if it hadn't gone this far, then I wouldn't be as stressed about it. I am really concerned that she doesn't know why she does it, I found a pen in her bag on Friday - she can't remember where she picked it up - it is obviously one of her classmates & it was just left lying around. I am also VERY concerned that she will steal more stuff at school or from a friends house. I have explained the consequences of this, but not sure if it has really sunk in. My mother thinks I should speak to her headmaster sooner rather than later as he may have advice (surely not the first child in his sch with this problem!) but I am not sure.

I really appreciate all your comments.... very helpful!

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