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Children Stealing and How to Stop

Dear Dr. Dave and Dr. Dee,

My 3-year-old daughter took a roll of Lifesavers while sitting in the grocery cart during checkout. I didn't discover it until we got home. This is the second time she's done this. I thought that I had made it clear the first time that we cannot take things, and must buy them. I took the candy from her, lectured her again, and gave her a time out. What else can I do to stop her from stealing?



Dear Help,

When a child steals, then do three things:

1. Tell them that stealing or taking things that don't belong to them is not allowed. Do NOT make them feel guilty or shameful, but make it clear that it is not acceptable behavior.

2. Take them back to the store and have them give the item back to the clerk. Don't make a big deal about it, just let them hand the item back.

3. Do NOT lecture them about stealing. Do not even talk about it after they have given the item back. The incident is over and done with.