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  • Stealing

    Hello. I am at the end of my rope. My 9 year old son with TS+ is stealing and lying about it constantly. He is mainly stealing from me and his sister. At first he was stealing and hoarding items that he found comfort in, because he was recently released from a residential program.
    Now he is stealing my jewelry and money. And flat out lying about it when we ask...actually he is getting angry with us when we ask. I am stuck on what kind of discipline/punishment/coaching I need to administer. I just tore up his room looking for some money that was missing and I will make him clean it up. I did find some other items that were taken as well.
    Anyone else dealing with this or have some thoughts?! Please!

  • #2
    Re: Stealing

    Perhaps some of these resources may offer insights while waiting for comments from other Forum members:

    Adolescence and Stealing from Family | Psychology Today

    Kids Stealing from Parents: What to Do | Empowering Parents

    American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry: Children Who Steal

    What to do if your teen is lying to you or stealing - Family Lives
    TouretteLinks Forum


    • #3
      Re: Stealing

      We've dealt with this in our home. Do not be swayed by arguments or explanations. "I found it", "Someone gave it to me" etc etc. The bottom line: "It's not yours and it goes back." Items that came from school would get delivered to the teacher (it we thought it came from a classmate, or the lost and found box at school). If it's stolen from somewhere else and you can't determine where, take it to Goodwill (or whatever you have in your area). We also employed natural consequences: My son's behaviours resulted in a loss of trust, and was subject to a weekly room inspection as we looked for items that were either missing or didn't belong to him. He learned that when you don't live by society's rules, they no longer apply to him. He lost his liberties, and it proved effective. He was also hoarding. Our rule: we set a limit to the number of items he could keep. When he reached his maximum, something else had to be removed from his collection. He learned to prioritize what he felt he needed. Over time, this behaviour was also extinguished. Best of luck.


      • #4
        Re: Stealing

        Would this be a good time to review his meds (if you are not averse to meds)?

        Does he have a local therapist? If so, this might be a good topic for the therapist to work on with the two of you.

        I think you're going to have to make sure that he doesn't have access to items of value such as cash and jewelry.

        Can you make him a treasure chest and invite him to choose items to put in there, and then let him decide who he opens it up to show the contents to, and when? You could make a big deal out of the chest being his alone, that he has full control over. In other words, if he feels an urge to hoard, can you show him that you understand, and support that urge (while protecting him from damaging his self-esteem by taking things of value)?

        My son has occasionally taken money from my wallet, or from his older brother's room (because of his impulsivity), and then later he felt terrible about it (because of his OCD and anxiety). So I asked my older son to be more careful about what he does with his cash, and I increased my level of supervision of the younger one.

        I'm glad Ken's approach worked for him, but it wouldn't work for me.

        To tell you the truth, the hoarding that drove me the most nuts was when my son was hoarding used bandaids and a tiny piece of lint (for example, that had been stuck to a toe when he took off a sock). I found the bandaids disgusting, and I was always afraid the little piece of lint might get lost, which would have made him freak out. (I did my best to keep all these feelings to myself.)

        Thank goodness the hoarding symptom has subsided. I hope your son's need to steal and hoard also subsides as he gets settled at home with you.