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8 year old stealing how can i make her stop?

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PamelaChurch | 03:29 Sun 08th May 2005 | Parenting
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I am so embarrassed, I am sitting here with tears in my eyes as I write this so much so i can hardly see letters on the keyboard. For the third time in as many weeks I have caught my 8 year old stealing money from was �20 3 weeks ago. �5 two weeks ago and today �60 from my purse. The first time I explained that the money she had taken and spent with her "friends" in the local arcade was money set aside to pay school dinner money for herself and her brothers for the month and that it took a long time to earn �20, that it was a lot of money and we simply couldn't afford to spend that amount of money in an arcade. the second time she bought herself a magazine, chewing gum and a bottle of ribena. i explained that if she asked I would have given her the money for a magazine, There is always juice in the cupboard, and since an incident involving chewing gum and hair we all agreed not to have gum. I gave her the same speech about how long it takes to earn that sort of money and that you can feed our family of 6 for a day with what she had just spent. I told her once again that stealing from family was wrong and that this behaviour would not be tolerated. Then today we had organised to go out to a local family event day but when we came to leave we couldnt find her, she'd gone out to play and so I took the two boys and my husband stayed at home with the baby to wait for her. she came back shortly after we had left and said she was getting a drink and going back out to play with her friends.Its only looking back that my husband realised that she didn't even get a drink as he was in the kitchen. instead she went into my bedroom opened my bag took out my purse and took �60 from it. She then took it to the arcades and treated herself and her friends to untold amounts of fun!. Can't help wondering what I've done wrong to make her like this. Feel like a complete failure on the mother front. If you have any advice please help thanks pam



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PLEASE PLEASE don't feel a failure. All our children do unexpected things and will upset or embarrass you many times, as well as the times they give us total and utter joy and love.

What I'm really concerned about here is the amount that your daughter is stealing from you, it seems an AWFUL lot of money. Is there any chance at all that she is being co-erced or even bullied into taking the money? Maybe she is doing it to 'buy' friendships? You really need to sit down and have a good talk with her and find out WHY she is stealing this money.

Maybe once you have sorted this problem out you could give her weekly pocket money which she could spend on what she likes, it will make her feel a little more grown up and possibly also give her a bit of sense of the value of money, you know, working out that if she buys that magazine this week she can't also afford six icecream, that sort of thing.

Good luck on sorting this out.
As much as I sympathise with your predicament, it does beg the question 'what are 8 yr olds doing in amusement arcades unaccompanied by an adult?'. It may well be true that she is being manipulated by the friends she goes with and maybe much older children , who see her as an easy source of money. It probably makes her feel very popular! As horrible as it sounds, you must also keep your money and valuables , at least for the time being, well out of her reach, as peer pressure appears to be stronger than your explanations to her of why she shouldn't be doing it. I agree that she should be given weekly pocket-money appropriate to her age (and your financial circumstances!) and make it clear that this sum has to last her all the week and that you will not be supplementing it if she spends it all  too soon.  You may need to sit down with  her  and help work out how to budget it. Amusement arcades must be made out of bounds to her, but as you have 4 children I realise that enforcing this may be difficult so I would suggest that you or your husband accompany her to find out just who she may be associating with. I wish you luck as I'm sure it probably won't be easy.
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Take heart - this happens to a lot of families - my own included.  Gosh it's difficult.  Mine just wanted a few more pence to be like her friends - so we had a talk to her, and removed temptation out of her way.  She got pocket money, so we explained if she wanted a bit more a) to do jobs around the house and b) to tell us what for and we would check.  Problem solved eventually. Maybe she's worried about her younger sibling.  Parenting is the hardest job in the world.  You sound like a loving and caring mother.  Good luck.
....and I also don't think your child has a concept of money and doesn't realise how much she is taking and the value of it.
p.s. As much as I hate to rub salt in the wound, be aware that as she has found it so easy to steal from you, she may extend her pilfering to visiting friends , relatives and classmates, which can lead to some very unpleasant situations indeed. My own niece went through a similar phase. So Andy is right, it must be treated very seriously and you must stick to the sanctions!
Give her a smack.
I don't think that flashpigs answer will really help things lol.   I agree with others, money kept out of the way, i.e in the bank or in a safe/safe place, keep a firm eye on her why is she going of to an amusement arcade?  It sounds like you have your hands full.  I have 3 boys and it is chaos sometimes, perhaps it is attention seeking, you have a baby too - maybe she feels left out.  Don't leave ANY more money in your handbag. It's simply to easy and rather disturbing that an eight year old is doing this - do you think maybe she is being bullied into it?  

I'm in agreement with the others that this behaviour does not reflect on you. It sounds like you're an involved and caring parent.

I agree that she needs to be sanctioned. For a start she should not be going to the arcades. But also she needs to personally feel the consequences of her actions. I do not mean smacking her. Whilst children can seem very grown up at her age and able to take full responsibility for their actions they are not in fact fully morally mature. At 8 a child will be able to understand behaviour as bad or good. What they lack is moral relativism. This usually develops between 10 and 13. 

She is highly unlikely to be able to rank naughty behaviour from bad to worst. As such she may genuinely not understand that stealing from you is worse than say arguing with her siblings. She is unlikely to understand your basic economics lessons in how long it takes to earn the money for things.

One suggestion might be to look through her things with her and put a price on them �5 for a teddy etc. and then add up enough toys / favourite clothes etc. to cover what she has taken. This might help bring the amount home to her. You could consider confiscating these belongings and allowing her to 'earn' them back through good behaviour.

You also want her to understand how much she has hurt you. When I was little and upset my Mum her tactic was to tell us that she loved us and always would but that right now she didn't like us much at all and didn't want to spend time with us. It was a final tactic but always worked on all three of us. With the reassurance she loved us stopping us from being too scared.

As well I'm sure you want to know why. Other people who have answered have suggested bullying. That is a possibility. Children can be horrid to each other. What did she think would happen if she didn't take money? If she thought that the other girls wouldn't play with her then did she think this as one or more of them told her that this was the case?

If so then there are a couple of things you could try. 1, Remove temptation. Hide your money. 2, Try to get her to play with other children - if she sits with this group at school have a word with the teacher about moving her so she can meet others. 3, speak to the parents. Don't necessarily be accusative but give them a friendly warning that the girls have been caught taking money from you to spend in the arcade. If their daughters aren't allowed there alone then they'll want to know. Also if you are cut off as a source of money then their funds may be at risk. Say you suspect bullying but you don't know who and suggest checking that no-one is pressuring their kids. This will help get the message of how seriously it is being taken into the group.

If she isn't being bullied or won't say she is then ask why she felt she had to take it. It may be that she is insecure about how fun she is to be around. A distinct possibility is that she enjoyed being able to give gifts and felt popular as a result. I bet they all loved her when she turned up with funds for the day. People, not just children, can be terribly shallow and I bet it felt great to be the one everyone wanted to be friends with. If this is the case then there are two possible tactics that I can see.

1, explain about real friendship and how it doesn't depend on having nice things to give. But is about being kind and nice no matter what toys / money you have. Ask her if she has any friends like this. If so then encourage her to spend time with these friends.

Final part, honest!

2 agree that it is nice to give and that you like that feeling too. Talk about birthdays and christmas and how nice it is to see people like what you've picked. Then say that you can give without spending. Perhaps a reward for a sustained period of good behaviour could be you agreeing to take her and her friends out for a picnic - cheap and you'd get to see how they play. It would show her that she can give treats such as an invitation at little financial cost. Or let her have a special friend or two stay over. Help her see that friends will value her for who she is and not what she can give them in terms of material goods.

Finally you mentioned a baby. Could this rebellious behaviour be part of her reacting to the presence of a new demand on your time? It is possible that through no falut of yours she is feeling neglected / unimportant. Try to involve her as much as you can with things you do with the baby - talk about how nice it is for the baby to have a big sister to look after him / her and how important she is to the baby. But also try to make time for just you / your husband and her.

A fair few people go through this type of phase at some point. The peak age for female offending is around 14 and a lot of that is petty theft from shops - make up clothes etc. The vast majority then go on to be perfectly law abiding citizens. If you nip it in the bud there seems no reason for you not to have a happy ending too.

Best of luck!

these are all wonderful replies but I'm curious about how the girl might think because of her stealing she is now going to get an allowance. I definately think kids her age should have allowances but she really hasn't earned it yet. Maybe when you punish her for stealing you can set up a discussion on why she's getting an allowance and explain to her how long it will take for her to pay you back the money she stole with her first couple of payments. maybe she should give half of the money back to you immediatly until the balance is paid for.
PC - if it helps I stole from my parents at a similar age. Had they done anything to deserve it? Absolutely not. Why did I do it? Bit of bravado and a bit of peer pressure. Did I know it was wrong? Absolutely. My punishment? I was grounded for a week and also had to spend all weekend doing gardening (weeding mostly). Don't feel bad, I'm sure it isn't anything that you've done. Today is my mum's birthday and she and dad have been staying with us for the weekend. We are taking them out for dinner later, so maybe I'm still paying back nearly 40 years after the crime!
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thankyou for all your replies, First of all I must explain about the arcades. We live in a seaside village, there are only about 60 houses the rest is made up with an enormous caravan site so the arcades are literally on our doorstep swarming with young children. I suppose children are their main source of income and accompanied or not they are there to take the money. There are relatively few cars so the children are allowed to play outside and even though they are told not to hang around by the arcades always seem to drift there. I've taken on board all of the advice and acted on most of it. She's grounded for a minimum of 1week, has been weeding the garden with me after school today, she is allowed no tv, no sweets and no pudding. I have made her gather all the proceeds of her ill gotten gains and added up her estimated price. Since she is still repaying the first amount we have decided that she can pay back half of the amount each week so she's still left with some to spend.
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We sat down and talked about why she felt she had to take monet from me. her answer was she wanted to impress the other children. I explained that if they were true friends then they didn't need impressing. She has lots of friends her own age but they live in the next village. So we have agreed that if she shows that I can trust her she will be allowed to bring a friend home for tea two nights a week and have one to sleep over every third weekend. ( had to promise the two boys the same I must be mad!) We talked about her position in the family and i asked how she felt at not been the youngest anymore to which she replyed she wasn't all that bothered as The baby was too young to be spoiled and she knew that I love all of my children the same but then went on to say that she thinks i spend too much time with her and not enough with the two boys. Again thankyou for all your help and advice greatly appreciated Pamxx

ok hi my names jade n im 15, right last year i was stealing money from my mums purse n bag when eva she wasn't looking once i even crept into her room when she was asleep 'coz she had to hide her bag frm me n stole �25, but i neva ment to hurt my mum or anybody i just felt like i needed to fit in wiv all the money or i THOUGHT! that my friends wouldn't want 2 hang wiv me. my mum had caught me so many times before and spoke to me about it but i still kept doing it then one day i stole �2.00 and i no it's not alot but my mum had had enough so she called the police and they came around and spoke to me about it and said that if i do it again i will get arrested .since then i aint never stole nothing, so i know it sounds really harsh thing to do but i would do that dont warn her ur going to just do it then it will be a big shock to her like it was to me and yea she will proberly be annoyed with you but beleive me if she's anything like i was she will NEVA steal anything again. then tell her that you do love her and you called them because you was worried she would turn out to steal more things and you dont want her getting in trouble or arrested and you did it because you're trying to help her and you love her. i am really embarresed and ashamed of what i did to my mum she's a single mum and was trying to support 5 kids and her self at the time and i am really really sorry.oh and you've not done anything wrong in bringing her up its just the way some kids are when they're trying to fit in or they're being bullied but i can bet you're a great, super mum and i bet her and her brothers think that aswell. luv ya jade -x-

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