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Petty theft (9yr old DD) how to deal?

(7 Posts)
MarmadukeScarlet Thu 20-Aug-09 14:41:39

(To give you some backstory to explain why I need assistance on this matter to ensure I am not overreacting)

I was brought up in a pretty disfunctional houshold (hesitate to call it home or family) where my brother (15 mths older than me) stole from everyone from a very young age and was never pulled up on it or told off- I even asked my mum to stop giving me pocket money as my B would always steal it, he is now a dole scrounger who has never had an honest job. My older step brother has spent most of his adult life in prison and was openly boastful regarding his (sometimes quite large scale) thefts.

I am about as law abiding as it gets, never even parked on a double yellow, as a consequence of my family.

My DD has a pretty tough time, 5 yr old brother with severe SN, DH works away at much of the time, bullied at school, just changing schools (partly due to bullying), I didn't exactly have the ideal parenting example but I do my best. She does not want for anything, but is not spoilt, although compared to some of her peers she does not have all the latest gadgets/fashions but we are more books than wii iyswim.

We were staying in a rented cottage last week, to attend a wedding in Slovakia where she was very excited to be bridesmaid. There was a bottle of Avon nail polish on the kitchen shelf, after a few days it disappeared. I commented to DH, in front of DD, that the owner of the cottage must have come in whilst we were out as the nailpolish had gone - was mildly irritated as I didn't like the idea of being spued upon.

I discovered 2 days later it was tucked in her bed, when I asked her how it got there she was immediately truthful and said she had taken it because she liked it. We had a quiet conversation about this being wrong mnot taking things that do not belong to you, in future if she wanted something she must ask me to take her to the shops to buy it with her money/do jobs to earn it/ask for it for birthday etc.

Today I found a long piece of hemmed pretty grosgrain ribbon in her pocket, I asked where it came from and she said she had picked it off the floor in a clothes shop. I calmly explained that if she had been caught she may have been prosecuted for shoplifting (probably unlikely).

Thinking back she regularly has low value items in her pockets - a few extra craft shapes after a craft day with Brownies etc. I have never mentioned it before to her.

I am trying to stop myself blowing this out of proportion due to my history - I do not think that this will lead to a life of crime.

She already has low self esteem and is quite withdrawn (she is seeing a play therapist/counsellor) but what should I do, if anything?

Thanks for getting to the end if you did!

MarmadukeScarlet Thu 20-Aug-09 15:37:08

pretty please...

GrapefruitMoon Thu 20-Aug-09 15:44:29

I understand why you want to nip any light-fingeredness in the bud - without going into too much detail, a family member had a history of helping herself to the belongings of other people in the family and it escalated when she got older and the police were involved. I think her parents regretted not having taken a stronger line when she was younger...

So when my dd did similar things to what your dd did (and worse - we found she had been helping herself to any loose change dh or I had left around) we came down quite hard on her.

I can understand how a child is tempted to pick up and take little things that take their fancy - I guess we just have to keep talking to them about how sad they would feel if someone took one of their possessions, etc....

mrshibbins Thu 20-Aug-09 15:53:02

Do most kids go through a stage of petty theft? I know I did, at the encouragement of an older girl. And from shops too, makeup, sweets, any little things I could slip in my pockets. Oh so wrong. My mum, when she inevitably caught me (the other girl got caught on her own, brought home in a squad car... Mum saw and put two and two together, then raided my bedroom...) made a massive deal out of it, threatened to shop me, made me very aware of the shame and guilt, and boy-oh-boy luckily for me, I felt it. Still do! And I never did it again ...

And like you I'm now a great advocate for truth and honesty (with exceptions of course as there always are)

sad So ... Last month I found out that my 8 yr old girl had been stealing ... we were in post office so that I could post some letters and she asked if she could buy some sweets with her money, shook her purse. Well, we don't have much money at the moment, and I knew she wouldn't have had more than 20-30p in her purse. But it sounded too full to me so I looked in it - there was far more money than her pocket money warranted. I asked her where she'd got it from and she said she'd 'found' it round her friend's house. I was appalled that at 8 she hadn't grasped that she couldn't just pick money up in someone else's house and keep it! She'd taken around £1.40 in all. I felt absolutely awful about it...

This is a shortened version as she told quite a few lies about where the money had come from before I got to the bottom of it (and the fibbing is another problem I'm trying to tackle...)

I made her sit down and write a letter of apology to her friend's parents, explaining exactly what she'd done (I made her rewrite it after the first draft said she'd 'accidentally taken it') enclosing the money. As far as she's concerned I posted the letter .... however, it's still in my desk drawer....

should I post it? I don't know.... should I?

Only time will tell whether she's actually genuinely learned anything from this ... as far as i can tell she was upset only because I was cross at her and made her write the letter, rather than because she felt any real guilt...

MarmadukeScarlet Thu 20-Aug-09 15:59:06

Thank you for your reply, also for saying that you understand.

I asked her how she would feel if someone took her (much longed/worked/saved up for) Nintendo DS and she said as long as a child who had less toys took it, like one of the gipsy children who were playing in the street (in Slovakia near our cottage, no shoes all weathers, filthy ill fitting clothes, horrid living accom, out in the street all day until 10pm or later some days and aged from 2 - 10 - DD's first view of grinding poverty) she wouldn't mind at all.

I then asked how she would feel if someone took our dog out of the garden because she was pretty and someone wanted her? She admitted this would make her feel very sad.

MarmadukeScarlet Thu 20-Aug-09 16:03:14

mrshibbins sad

I really cannot advise as to posting of letter. How well do you know parents of friend? I think I would keep it hidden tbh.

I'm sure DD was only upset at being caught, I praised her for telling the truth straight away though as previously we have had a fibbing problem.

mrshibbins Thu 20-Aug-09 16:09:56

hi marmadukescarlet

i don't know the parents of the friend very well at all ... i think the letter will stay in my desk drawer...

it sounds like you are doing all you can in trying to train your daughters conscience and understanding of actions and consequences. this is something we all have to learn when we're kids, and a few hard lessons never go amiss in knocking our original sin on the head. it must be such a worry to you though, you must be desperate that she's not going to end up the same way as the other 'bad blood' in your family ...

it's all down to nature vs nurture, and we've just got to make sure that nurture wins

good luck!

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