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Why Does My 10-Year-Old Kid Steal Money From Me and What Should I Do?

by
author image Brenda Scottsdale
Brenda Scottsdale is a licensed psychologist, a six sigma master black belt and a certified aerobics instructor. She has been writing professionally for more than 15 years in scientific journals, including the "Journal of Criminal Justice and Behavior" and various websites.
Why Does My 10-Year-Old Kid Steal Money From Me and What Should I Do?
Close-up of a man counting the dollars in his wallet. Photo Credit Purestock/Purestock/Getty Images

Many 10-year-olds steal money from their parents so their behavior is not necessarily a reflection on your skills as a parent. Reasons 10-year-olds steal vary, depending on their motivations, problem-solving ability and level of impulse control. However, understanding the cause for the stealing helps parents identify what to do about it.

Lack of Understanding

Although your 10-year-old probably understands stealing is wrong, he may not fully grasp all the ramifications of his actions. Try saying, "Taking this money is disrespecting my things. I don't disrespect your things and you do not disrespect mine." Act swiftly and consistently; parents who fail to punish a 10-year-old who steals inadvertently send a message to the child that this behavior is acceptable.

Use a time out, by having your child sit in a quiet corner. Generally, parents limit the time out to one minute for every year of age of the child so the punishment is not excessive. A 10-year-old would get 10 minutes in time out.

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Testing Limits and Boundaries

Ten-year-olds sometimes steal because they are testing limits and boundaries, they think stealing is effective or easy or they cannot control their own impulses. Take the money back and provide a more in-depth explanation of why taking money from you is wrong. Empathize with your child but continue to hold limits. Try saying, "I understand you were frustrated, but stealing is never a good solution." Maintain your power by remaining calm and unemotional.

Revenge

Your 10-year-old may be trying to get even with you. Explain to her that even though she has a right to be angry, she does not have a right to steal from you. Remain calm to maintain control. Remove privileges or cherished items in a time-limited manner, telling her clearly what she has to do to earn the privilege or item back. Stay firm; this consequence is not negotiable.

Seek Professional Help

Stealing sometimes continues despite your efforts to discuss the matter and set limits with your child. A bad habit is forming if your 10-year-old maintains the behavior despite increasingly strict discipline or the frequency or amount stolen increases over time. Ten-year-olds who are developing a problem take increasingly risky chances to steal and report getting a thrill out of the behavior. Seek the help of a licensed mental health professional to address stealing that appears to have become a bad habit. Both individual and family therapy may be necessary to adequately address the problem.

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References

Demand Media