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I caught a playmate stealing toys...what should I do?

(23 Posts)
theworldiknow Sat 08-Dec-12 10:57:54

Hi all

We have a boy (6.5) who lives a few houses away and has been coming over to play up to 5 times a week for the past few months. My DH & I have both suspected that he has been taking things from the house but have had no proof. We recently set some boundaries with the amount the child was coming over to 2 afternoons a week as it was all getting too much. Anyway, today we were going out so I gave the child a 5 minute warning that it was nearly home-time (as I always do). He started ordering my son to get together certain types of toys which I thought odd and so I started to watch more closely. The playmate collected a small pile of toys, checked where his pocket was, stepped out of my line of sight and then a few seconds later came in to the kitchen with no toys in his hand. I left it for a few minutes and when it was time to go I asked him if I could see what was in his pocket and there they were. To cut a long story short he swore blind that they were all his and he had left them here on a different day. Then he changed the story to certain toys were his and the lego men were my sons. Whatever way you look at it he stole the toys.

I don't know what to do now so I would like to ask what you would do and see if there is an answer out there that would work for us.

Other factors:
My son really really values this childs "friendship".

The child is very very bossy and finds compromising when playing very difficult. He can be very overbearing towards my DS, overriding anything my DS says that he dosn't like with comments such as "NO, you are wrong, I have seen it in the/a movie". My DS gets really angry.

The child regularly refuses to go home when asked.

We have had to stop all trading (of Bakugan or other toys) as my DS is oblivious to the rules of trading and the child was convincing my DS to trade his "best" ones for broken ones which he convinced my son were much more powerful now as "he had seen it in the movie". My sons Bakugan collection is now half what it was.

The kid is a natural born wheeler-dealer if ever I saw one.
Anyway, I won't bore you with more details...but any advice would be greatly appreciated.

colditz Sat 08-Dec-12 11:04:22

Step in very heavily. Check his pockets as he arrives, and check his pockets as he leaves, and by the way, BAN swapping entirely. Make it a clear rule. "There will be no swapping, swapping is not allowed".

And if (or when!) you catch him with your sons toys in his pockets, crack down quite hard with "those belong to ds, not to you, if you try to steal again you will not be allowed in my house."

He is far to old for this to be small child silliness. It needs squashing.

In fact, the way you describe him, I wouldn't let him in full stop.

RudolphiaRedNose Sat 08-Dec-12 11:10:02

Ugh we had this with a friends DD. luckily she isn't all that close to DS and doesn't come to play much. She actually filled her rucksack with ds's toys and took them home shock. She also (at 6) was stealing twenties out of her mums purse!

When the thieving happened and I realised, I waited until we were at hers and said calmly "these are the things you took from our house without asking, let's collect them all so we can take them home" and basically scoured her room and took them back. I didnt really raise it with her mum - chickened out - but maybe that would be a good idea?

You could say to him "last time you tried to steal things, if that ever happens again you won't be coming to play any more" and stick to it. Or tell his parents he has been stealing and say you'd like to have a break from the playmates for a few months, then take it from there. Sounds like your DS doesn't need him around.

Also explain to DS that the behaviour wasn't ok and he has done nothing wrong. My DS is like yours, will let people do stuff like this without a fight.

3b1g Sat 08-Dec-12 11:12:48

Coming to play up to five times a week?
Regularly refuses to go home when asked? hmm
Next time this child wants to come and play, "I'm afraid now isn't a good time". And the next.

Casserole Sat 08-Dec-12 11:21:30

If you really want to keep the friendship going for your son's sake, I'd have him over once or twice a week max and watch like a hawk. No bags, coats upstairs etc and check pockets before going.

Casserole Sat 08-Dec-12 11:22:27

I'd probably also heavily concentrate on building up some other friendships for my son too, so that if you do get to the point of wanting to phase this one out a bit, he has others already in place.

That all sounds very calculated, but you know what I mean.

theworldiknow Sat 08-Dec-12 11:41:10

when i read back my post I find it hard to believe I have allowed this to continue. The child has regularly been getting off the school bus and coming straight to our house. I am currently living in Australia at the moment so when we are home the front door is nearly always open and the child just rocks up and my son gets so upset when I say it is not a good day to play that I stopped saying it and just limit the length of the visits instead...but sometimes it is easier to have a playmate here so I can cook dinner/care for DD(2) etc. They play nicely only about 50% of the time. ...I think I also see a little boy who is totally fobbed off by his parents who don't seem to have any time for him at all. When he is home he just watches things on the computer. His 9 year old sister is regularly left in charge of him and she is such a sweet girl and brings him over so she can be with her friends.

I don't know how I am going to stop this. Should I tell his mother about the stealing? If I am lucky maybe he will never come back having been busted today!

LemonBreeland Sat 08-Dec-12 11:45:54

I wouldn't allow him around at all if I was you. I would also close my door at school finishing time so he can't just wander in.

LemonBreeland Sat 08-Dec-12 11:47:57

As for speaking to his Mother. It is really something only you can decide. She may be one of those people who really doesn't give a shit, or she may do something about it.

theworldiknow Sat 08-Dec-12 11:53:41

I think you are right Casserole. I really need to put more energy into my sons other relationships. Thankfully he has two other good friends and I will focus in that direction.

I just can't bear the thought of checking the childs pockets. If I feel the need to do that I don't think I can have him in the house at all...and I think I feel the need to do that...i should probably speak to his mother if I am going to do that...

why is this so hard!

theworldiknow Sat 08-Dec-12 11:59:14

Thanks LemonBreeland - with the door he just keeps on knocking if we don't answer even if it is closed...he can be a really sweet kid but just writing all this about him makes me see how much of the relationship is negative.

thanks for all the advice. my partner will be home in a minute and I will see what he has to say!

PlaySchool Sat 08-Dec-12 12:03:08

If you do let him in then check him before he leaves and if he has anything then I would give him a proper dressing down and tell him to take them back to your son. He is unlikely to do it again after that.

theworldiknow Sat 08-Dec-12 12:06:42

i didn't even think of making him apologise to my DS was just sitting there a bit stunned and started standing up for the playmate. I think I have handled this all soooooo wrong.

adoptmama Sat 08-Dec-12 12:55:03

I don't think you have handled it wrong at all - like your son you have been caught a bit blind-sided by it all. You let boy know he was caught, recovered the items and told him off. That's exactly what anyone would do and it serves him right. Hopefully he will learn a lesson that he needs to learn.

Only you can decide if you are going to have this child in your house again. If you do, you need to tell him very clearly there are certain rules in your house that he needs to follow (no swapping, stealing, lying, bullying, bossing around etc.), and that he cannot come over if he doesn't follow them. If it helps, sit the two lads down and help them make the rules up together. 6 is clearly old enough for a child to know right from wrong and the fact he was hiding his stealing and then lying about it shows he clearly knows he was up to no good.

You cannot change the way his parents act or raise him; nor are you responsible for providing a free baby sitting service. If you have concerns in that direction I would suggest you contact social services (anonymously if necessary) as 9 is too young to baby sit a 6 year old and it is neglectful (and probably illegal) of the parents to leave the children in this way.

It is hard to deal with other people's kids if their own parents don't step up to the plate. Sometimes you have to make a decision about whether you prefer for your kids to see you defending them and their rights, or whether you should keep quiet and hope for the best. I recently had this with a friend whose son was lying and bullying my DD in our house. Having watched several incidents be ignored by his mother, including his flat our refusal to tell the truth and also apologise when she told him to, I finally gave him a bloody good telling off. I suspect the friendship between his mum and I is cooling as a result (although the kids, not!) but in the end I felt it was very important for my DD to see me enforce what we as a family have accepted as normal good behaviour. Outside, maybe I would have acted differently, but I think our kids have a right and expectation that our family's 'fair rules' are enforced at home consistently, including with visitors. You showed your son how to stand up for himself, and showed him that you would stand up for him too. I can't think of anything else a mum can or should do!

I would rule out checking his pockets: in this day and age sticking your hands inside the clothing of some one's child is a receipe for disaster. Instead, if you are sure he has something he shouldn't, take him across to the parents and ask them to empty his pockets and explain that you have caught him stealing before and it has been going on for a while. It is unlikely that he is only stealing from your son. He sounds a troubled little boy who needs help and attention - but that is not your role or responsibility. Your responsibility is to your child, helping him to learn to enforce appropriate boundaries and have the confidence to stand up for himself. I would focus on this area, role playing etc with your son how he can deal with these situations.

MrsMushroom Sat 08-Dec-12 13:40:17

I think honestly that you need to explain to your DS about friendships and how they work....and that while he values this boy as a playmate...he s not his friend and you're not going to be having him over again.

As adoptmama says, you can't check the boys pockets and he'll just get more devious anyway....hide the toys somewhere else or find other ways to take things,

I really think it will be good to help DS to make other friends. No child of 6 needs a friend over daily...even weekly! I also agree with role playing with DS and helping him to get some confidence.

MrsMushroom Sat 08-Dec-12 13:42:12

If he keeps knocking, you open the door and say firmly "DS doesn't want to play." then close it. =

PlaySchool Sat 08-Dec-12 16:25:07

I think people need to remember that this child is only 6! He will probably stop doing these naughty things once he is told off.

HECTheHallsWithRowsAndFolly Sat 08-Dec-12 16:33:17

He isn't your son's friend.

You have nothing to try to protect.

i have had this with a child who identified my kids as easy targets and stuff started to go missing.

I started to refuse to let him in the house. My eldest was upset because he actually thought this boy was his friend. Because the boy says he is hmm (my sons have autism)

So the next time he came over I let him in. And I sat there in the bedroom with them and never took my eyes off his hands!

He's not been back since.

SantaFrontPaws Sat 08-Dec-12 16:47:16

What are the parents like? Could you raise this with them? (Dont use the words steal, thief, or thieving little sod). I would insist they played in the front room or garden with a limited anmount of toys so that before he goes you can check - and even say 'lets get all the toys together and make sure all the bits are here'. If something isn't there ask him to ckeck pockets (Id just put out larger toys that arent as desireable) - you cant really delve in there. If he refuses, then you could either a) take him to mum and say that he's taken a toy (but be bloody sure!) Or b) 'oh dear, well things do go missing when we have guests over - maybe its better if you dont come over again'. You need to explain to your son that a real friend would not make him do things he doesnt want, take his things, or try to make him feel bad.

The pilfering isnt the biggest worry - the low level bullying is. I would be hawk mum and give him the steely eye when he trots over. You dont have to let him stay if he appear at the dppr.

Has your son other friends you can cultivate?

SantaFrontPaws Sat 08-Dec-12 16:51:27

We have had a little 'friend' like this but he would 'borrow' things. Nanny didnt know what a Bakugun was, and mummy didnt give a toss/probably thought 'good for you,son'. Also a child who tells huge porkies about the origin of a toy/pen/watch - he has had a lego watch being 'left in his will' to his father by his grandfather (ie a family heirloom, but his grandfathers are both alive and well).

theworldiknow Sun 09-Dec-12 09:01:45

thanks so much to all of you for your time in replying.
I am going to speak to the mother and make it clear that we are not available to play for a while. I saw the playmate across the street today and realised that he is probably stressed out of his mind waiting to see what I will do. It would have been better to deal with it yesterday but you live and learn. The fact that the child has not shown up today is a sign that he knows he is not welcome.
On a good note when i saw him he was with his dad, so not being welcome at ours is forcing him to be home. In the past three months i have spent more time with him than either of his parents put together. So maybe there is a silver lining to this cloud.

I will also work through "what is a friend" with my DS and try some role play and stories and make sure I arrange playdates with his other two buddies.

Thanks again to you all for helping me get my thoughts and feelings in order xxx

Casserole Sun 09-Dec-12 13:35:55

I did also think that you could try and go out after school a few days a week, just for a few weeks until the habit of him turning up to yours is broken?

lunar1 Sun 09-Dec-12 13:38:26

Hope the chat goes well

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