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QUESTION: My Stepdaughter Stole from My House: What Should I Do?
“My seven-year-old stepdaughter stole something (it was an unwrapped toy, some pet thingy that was intended for my youngest child’s birthday) from my house.
I specifically and flat out told my stepkid not to touch it, but she took it and opened it. Her mother is furious. Apparently, this has happened before.
It seems as though I will be the one to deal with discipline (I home school my stepchildren, and I’m the main childcare provider in our family.) What the hell do I do?
I am seriously more disappointed that she lied to her mother about it, but what would be the best way to see to it that she learns her lesson?”
The following top answers have been selected by a moderator from hundreds of responses to the original question.
“She gets to earn the money to buy the youngest one a new toy. But in order for that to really work, she has to do the chores, you give her money, you have to take her to the store and she spends her money. She can’t just do chores and then you buy a toy; she physically has to do it. And also she doesn’t get to keep the toy that she stole. You should probably have her take it to a donation place. There should never be a reward for something done wrong.”
“When my son stole, he lost everything. He only had his bed and clothes. ABSOLUTELY no toys, tablets, games, never got to pick what was on TV. I told him if he feels he can take what doesn’t belong to him then he doesn’t get the privilege of having anything above necessities…
… It was hard for everyone but he has never stolen anything since. It was like a week with nothing then he got one toy back at a time after chores. He didn’t get to pick the toy he got back. I chose, sometimes it was something he wanted other times it was a book. He learned real fast to appreciate what he already has and not take what doesn’t belong to you!”
“She’s obviously needing some attention and support. Stop the idea of discipline and start thinking in terms of why. Why does she feel the need to act out, what can we do instead, how can we communicate our needs in a healthy way, etc. The kid needs supported and loved through whatever is causing this, not punished for it. And since you, an adult, don’t even understand what’s going on you really shouldn’t expect a 7-year-old to fully grasp the situation either.”
“You can ask her mom and dad what they think would be suitable. But I think working to pay for the toy would be a start. She can do chores around the house to pay it off.”
“I haven’t dealt with stealing, but have dealt with being a bonus mom who was very involved with my bonus daughters, and had lots of group parent conversations and had to deal with things in the moment and back my decisions up to the other parents afterwards. Just make sure you back up the other parents and they back you up. You will make mistakes. You will not be perfect. Life is a learning experience. Love the child and think what would you do if your biological child did the same thing? Then do that. No different. Proceed with unconditional love.”
“I stole my grandma’s music box when I was 7, what I didn’t realize was it was something she got made with her sister before she died. I gave that music box away, broke my grandma’s heart for years. She told me how disappointed she was in me and how much it meant to her. Everyone in the family gave me a scolding, I can proudly say I’m 22 years old, only ever stolen that one thing my entire life, and even replaced it for her two years ago because it haunted me so bad.”
“To me that’s something you and both parents should all decide together.”
“When my son was about the same age he stole some quarters out of my purse, I made him call his grandma and grandpa and his uncle and tell them what he did. He was so embarrassed he never did it again.”
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