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ADHD Parenting Tips – How to Stop Child Lying and Stealing
Stealing is a common misbehavior in children with ADHD. One of the signs of ADHD is impulsivity without thinking. When a child with ADHD sees something they like, they often put it in their pocket, put it in their mouth, or walk away with it.
Later, when he has a quiet moment, he will take it out to take a good look at what he got. If it’s not as interesting as he thought, he might just throw it away.
When a child is caught stealing, he impulsively lies in order not to lose his stolen loot and to avoid discipline. (This is why stealing and lying usually go hand in hand.)
The secret is to see the behavior clearly and stay calm. Face the elements rationally and you can overcome it.
A child will steal for the following reasons:
* He likes shiny or glittering objects, so he perceives them impulsively. This is common in children with ADHD.
* He wants something to chew, so he steals food, gum or sweets. Children with ADHD often steal gum from stores. These kids also chew shirt collars and sleeves.
* He wants to buy gum and sweets, so he steals money to buy them (usually for older kids with ADHD).
* He wants revenge, for example, if a classmate got him into trouble, he can steal a book from her school bag.
* He feels deprived, materially or emotionally abandoned children steal, unconsciously, to fill the void in his heart.
* He wants to escape from depression, filled with cunning and passion for stealing, he can escape from depression. He feels a momentary thrill when he is pursued.
Some parents simply threaten, saying, “If you steal in the real world, you’ll go to jail.” The child thinks, “Nothing happens to me when I steal at home and at school, so I might as well steal again and take advantage of my opportunities.”
A child may lie for the following reasons:
* He cannot admit that he made a mistake (most often) – for example, he broke a vase.
* He is afraid of punishment – he remembers the pain when he was punished in the past.
* He wants to impress others with his background or abilities, for example, “My dad has 13 cars.”
* He does not want others to know about his shameful past, for example, he lives in a poor part of town.
* He doesn’t know the difference between the truth and a lie because he lies so often. He forgets his lies, which makes others very confused.
Yelling, threatening, and yelling will not change your child’s stealing behavior.
Use the following techniques to lie and steal:
Make sure your child has three meals and two snacks each day. Have a bowl of fruit for a snack. Keep emergency sugar-free gum on hand in case your child is desperate for something to chew. This will save a lot of collars and shirt sleeves.
Catch your child every time he steals and he should get a logical consequence every time. Trace the provenance of everything he says he found or was given. Ask to see the receipt for the items he claims to have bought. Otherwise, donate the item to charity or give it to a lost and found school.
Teach him the difference between “need” and “want”. When something catches his eye and he wants to reach for it, he must learn to ask himself the question: “Do I want it or do I need it?” If he just wants the pen his peers are holding, teach him to ask his peers, “Can I hold/admire your pen for a few moments?”
Collect some novelties (like ones he can steal) to train this skill. Monitor him as he practices saying, “Can I hold/admire yours [novelty item] for a few moments?” Hand him the item and let him look at it. Thank him when he returns it to you. Give him a token at the end of this science experiment. Teach him that he needs something if he can’t live without it, e.g. air, water, food and rest. If he needs something, he has the right to ask for it properly. For example, “Mom, it’s 6:00 p.m. Is dinner ready? If not, can I have a cookie because my stomach is growling?”
Teach your children to resolve disputes with clear and assertive communication, not retaliation.
Give your child ways to earn an allowance for good behavior and good grades so he can spend money. (I recommend using a token system.) Let him spend it however he wants, even on sweets. He earned it.
Give him a logical consequence for every instance of stealing. One of the most compelling consequences is a reward of three times the value of the stolen items. If your child has to pay three times the value of a $10 item and return the item, they will learn that it is worth waiting to buy it with an allowance.
Teach your child values and hold him accountable for his actions with logical consequences. If you consistently use these methods every time you suspect theft, your child may decide that stealing is more trouble than it’s worth.
You can solve it
Consistency is key to healing children who lie and steal.
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