Why Kids Steal and How to Discourage the Habit

As a parent, it can be quite disheartening to learn that your child has been charged with shoplifting. This is a big problem, and dealing with it requires knowing why children steal in the first place. Kids steal for many reasons, but these three are common examples:

Peer Pressure

Some kids steal because they are pressurized into it by their friends. The friends may make it seem cool or daring, with those who refuse their peer's pressure get to be the subject of endless disparaging jokes. For example, a popular kid can dare other kids to steal a smartphone, and threaten to make those who refuse the dare look weak. Many kids give in to such dares because they want to belong.


There are kids who steal because they want to have the things they can't afford, especially if they see their friends, classmates, or neighbors with those things. For example, a kid may feel out of place if most of their classmates seem to have the latest smartphones. Such a kid may be tempted to steal a smartphone even the one they have is still operational.


There are also kids who steal because they want attention, especially from their parents or guardians. For example, a child who is lonely or having trouble in school may resort to steal as a way of dealing with their emotions. This may happen whether the child's problems are real or imagined. It's almost as if the "high" of stealing material things satisfies their emotional needs.

Dealing with the Behavior

Teaching your child that stealing is wrong is a good idea, but it might not be enough to stop them from stealing. Disciplining the child may also work but, at times, may also fail. In fact, many kids who steal already know that society frowns upon the behavior. Therefore, you need to identify and deal with the root of your kid's behavior. Talking to the kid's teachers or talking to the kid about their behavior may help you with the diagnosis.

For example, if the kid is stealing to get attention from you, see if you can spend more time with them. An attention-seeking child may also benefit from broadening their interests and hobbies, so see if you can introduce the child to other activities. In some cases, enlisting the help of a counselor may speed up the process.

If your child has been charged with shoplifting, try to help them realize the error of their ways. Most children outgrow this habit as they grow, but your child may need your help to do this. The authorities know this also, which is why there are juvenile courts and lenient sentences for kids. Talk to a criminal defense lawyer like The Fitzpatrick Law Firm to help you defend your child so that they can benefit from alternative sentences even if they get convicted.