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4 year that lies and steals

I have a 4 1/2 year stepson. I have been with him since he turned 3 years old. He calls me "mom" and I have stepped up and treat him as if he was my own. He is an extremely bright child and has the vocabulary of an adult. What is so frustrating is that I can't get through to him to teach him right from wrong.
He started taking items from his brother's room and when he was caught he cried but I think it was because he got caught and not due to being sorry. Now he has started taking items from the house (from his brothers room, from my room, from the kitchen, living room, etc). If it is food then he eats it and tries to hide the wrapper. This weekend he went in our room on four seperate occassions and took the valentine candy that we had. Each time we caught him and it didn't phase him. Then he took his father's keys and hid them in his room. We looked everywhere for the keys and he even lied to us and said he didn't have them. Finally, we found them in his bedroom and he still lied about it. His father was late to work because of it.

I cleaned out his room after that and found all types of things children shouldn't have (scissors, large clippers, a knife). I tried to speak to him about it and he said he was sorry and he took these things because he wanted them. I tried to tell him that somethings are his and other things aren't. I asked how he would feel if his brother stole his valentine's and candy from school. Or if his brother took his favorite toy and lied about. I thought that maybe he would understand after that. Less than 2 hours later I found him in his bedroom hiding something. It turned out to be his father's pocket knife. I flipped my lid.

I don't know what to do with him. Talking to him about his actions don't help. Taking away priviliges don't help. A spank to get his attention when he misbehaves doesn't phase him at all. Reward systems for his behavior don't work. Time outs are a waste of time with him. It is like he has no sense of anyone but himself. He hasn't been raised to behave this way.

I don't know what else to do. I feel like I am raising a criminal. Can anyone offer any type of advice? I am willing to try anything and everything suggested.

Re: 4 year that lies and steals

Nip this in the bud. Sounds like your a good person taking responsibility of raising this child as your own. I was in the same circumstance, raising my husbands daughter. She was 5 when I came into her life. She too lied and stole. She stole jewelry, money, credit cards, cd's, etc. She stole from us, the babysitter, her own mother. She use to come over with money ($50 was the most one time) that she stole from her mom's wallet. She too cried, but only because she got caught and it was all an act.

She lives with her mom now and is the same. She has stolen from her teachers. One teacher took her jewelry off to put lotion on and she stole her bracelet. She has no remorse at all and curses us for catching her. She hits her brother if he tells us because we make her take these things back. We have no control over this child as she now lives with her mom.

The only thing I can say is be consistent. Consequences must be consistent. We would take something that she loved and restrict her. Each time she stole, we would add another item lost and add days to her restriction. The more stolen items, the more she lost and the more time she lost it. It seemed to work for a bit. And we made her earn these items back to teach her that other people work hard for what they have.
You might seek some counseling as maybe he is rebelling because he misses his own mom. I am sure you are good to him, but mom is mom.
Good luck

Re: 4 year that lies and steals

This must be very distressing for you. It is really outside of my experience, so what I'm saying is just my own gut instinct about the situation. First, I admire you very much for taking on someone else's child - it can't be easy. But it must be hard for him too. He's only 4 1/2 and he's gone through enormous changes in his life. You don't say how long this has been going on, but could it be that the behaviour coincided with some upheaval? Or is his growing understanding of the situation he is in - with two moms - at the root of his behaviour? Does he seem angry? Don't think of him as a criminal - he's a small child. His behaviour sounds very trying and difficult, but I'm sure you can help him. Is there anyone you can turn to for advice and support? I wish you the very best of luck.

Re: 4 year that lies and steals

Hi Nikki, don't give up on your step son, he is only 4 and has not yet learned right from wrong.

Try to encourage him to ask first if there is something he wants instead of just taking it. Then back this up by putting child locks or bolts high up (so he can't reach) on the doors of the rooms you don't want him to go into, and use child proof locks on the kitchen cabinets and the fridge doors. It won't be long before he will give up trying to take things and will have to ask first.

Good luck