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4 year old stealing

(10 Posts)
rhetorician Sun 28-Jul-13 21:45:00

I wouldn't call it stealing either. My dd is also 4 (5 in Jan) and quite often asks to 'borrow' a toy if we have been at someone's house. It's slightly awkward, but I think it helps her to manage transitions, like taking a favourite toy to nursery. 'Borrow' is a slightly elastic term in dd's vocabulary, but we always ensure that objects are returned. I think you should just make sure that she asks permission, that this is ok, and that the toy has to go back.

KnittedWaffle Sun 28-Jul-13 19:06:05

Good advice, thanks Yonibotts.

I think it's most likely a boundary testing thing and because she really likes the toys (the first ones were a set of Disney fairies and the second was a really nice purple beanbag lizard thing). She's a lovely girl and a big part of her personality is wanting to do the right thing usually, which is why it's so out of character.
I haven't actually used the word 'stealing' when discussing it with her but did say it wasn't nice to take things without asking and we went through the reasons why.
I think I'll do the 'ask an adult' thing as that hands her the responsibility, which I think is a better route for her. I haven't really got cross with her, rather I've tried to understand why she did it and get her to understand why she shouldn't do it so I hope this softer approach pays off!

YoniBottsBumgina Sun 28-Jul-13 11:02:37

Sometimes at 4 they know and understand the rules but they have also started to realise that adults sometimes break rules in exceptional circumstances or if something important to them outweighs it. She's just trying to apply this for herself. You could tell her that a good rule of thumb is to check with an adult before she goes against an accepted rule.

YoniBottsBumgina Sun 28-Jul-13 10:58:49

I don't know if calling it stealing is the right thing to say - she id very little and won't have much of a concept of ownership yet. The way you've talked about it sounds good but it might be worth spelling out that "stealing" iswhwhat we call it when somebody takes something which isn't theirs. (you may have done this already!)

You could try and ask her why she brought it home - perhaps because she is worried about moving up a class and not being able to play with it any more, because some other child was being rough and she wanted to keep it safe, or just because she wanted it forhherself.

If it turns out she wanted to keep it/was worried about losing it you could reiterate that just taking things isn't allowed, does she understand about money in shops yet? You could tell her if there is something she wants you can put it on her Christmas or birthday list, or perhaps you could set up a new system where she can earn stars towards a goal (with a chosen toy as reward)or perhaps it's time to start giving pocket money so she can save up for things she wants.

In the first instance I would assume good intent and that she didn't understand why it was wrong. I would probably put a consequence in if she keeps doing it, though.

noblegiraffe Sun 28-Jul-13 10:50:48

My DS is nearly 4, also starting school in September. I'm sure schools are used to kids wanting to take stuff home, if she tries it again at school, maybe get the teacher to talk to her about how it's not allowed. They'll be learning all sorts of new rules then so I'm sure it will be fine.

KnittedWaffle Sun 28-Jul-13 10:46:36

Hasn't thought of that. How old is your DS? She starts school in September and although I don't want to get ahead of myself I don't want her to be doing this there!

noblegiraffe Sun 28-Jul-13 10:44:08

I think she is doing it because she was playing with the toy and wanted to play with it some more. My DS often takes toys home from the childminders because he hasn't finished playing with them, but she's happy to allow this. He is diligent about bringing them back.

Just reiterate that it's not allowed, and perhaps quickly check her bag for contraband when you pick her up.

KnittedWaffle Sun 28-Jul-13 10:37:52


KnittedWaffle Sun 28-Jul-13 09:52:50


KnittedWaffle Sun 28-Jul-13 09:43:24

My DD is 4 and has started stealing. On 2 separate occasions she has put a toy from nursery into her bag and taken it home.
This morning she was asking me where her nursery bag was and I gave it to her, then caught her looking sheepish with her hands behind her back, so she knows it's wrong and that I won't approve.
The first time she did it I spoke to her about stealing and took the toy back and with her there explained to a member of staff she had brought it home without permission.
This time I spoke to her about stealing and asked how she would feel if someone came to our house and took gone one of her toys because they liked it. She understood and said she'd feel sad.
I've confiscated the toy and will speak to nursery again on Thursday but I don't want this becoming a habit.
She has plenty of toys but isn't spoilt either and I don't think it's for attention as she tries to be discreet!
Why do you think she's doing it? Is it normal? What should I do?

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