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What should I do if my child is shoplifting?

It’s disheartening to learn that your child is stealing. When this occurs, it’s best for parents to talk to their kids in a calm and rational matter to get to the heart of the issue. Kid’s Health offers the following advice to Texas parents faced with the knowledge that their child is shoplifting.

Your reaction should be based on the age of your child and whether this is the first offense. Remember that young children might not understand the gravity of their actions. You should illustrate how stealing hurts people on a personal level, as well as take the child back to the place where shoplifting occurred to apologize. If your kid is still in possession of the item, make sure he or she returns it.

For older kids exhibiting a pattern of stealing, stricter measures should be taken. Consequences are key in this case, as merely punishing a child often fails to have the desired result. If a child steals money, make arrangements for the child to pay it back. If the child took something from a store without paying, go back and speak to store security with your child in tow. Also, have a conversation about the larger consequences of shoplifting, i.e. financial losses, workers losing their jobs, and higher prices for consumers.

If the behavior persists despite your best efforts, it might be time to seek outside assistance. A counselor can help your children process his or her emotions and get to the bottom of shoplifting and stealing. Some kids act out for attention, while others may be experiencing negative emotions and are unsure how to express them. Kleptomania is another concern. This is a compulsive disorder where a person feels compelled to steal. While rare, it’s important to get your child help to prevent serious consequences from occurring.