Apr 11, 2018

How To Explain Stealing To My Four Year Old

Last week my Mom was sweet enough to take our oldest four year to a local Children's Museum to get some pent out energy out for a few hours. They clearly had such a great time that they were there for almost FOUR hours! Lily couldn't have been more excited, until when she walked through the door she began to cry.

I asked her what happened and she began to say that someone took her coat out of a locker that she had shared with my Mom. They didn't lock the door but clearly it was intentional if someone took her coat and not my Mom's. This also wasn't just any old coat but a cute pink coat that she wore almost every single day. She adored this coat. It was unsettling to me as a parent to try and explain to her what stealing is because the one question she kept asking me was..


Why did someone steal my coat Mom? I really didn't have an answer. Children or even parents steal for a number of reasons. If a child hasn't been taught by an adult that stealing is "bad", addressing the stealing behavior will require a different approach than if a child is stealing to get an adult's attention or instead, a way to rebel against an adult. Sometimes stealing happens out of impulse aka without thinking about their potential consequences of their actions. Sometimes it's a form of misbehavior. Sometimes they just haven't learned that stealing is wrong.

So I wanted to keep this as a teachable moment for her. I shared that some people don't know right from wrong and that she's a smart girl and knows that we don't take what is not ours. Maybe someone needed the coat more than she did. Maybe this person doesn't know that taking is the WRONG thing to do. That taking something is different than sharing something.

We're privileged to be able to get Lily another coat and better yet, come into Spring with not needing one in a few weeks. Whomever took my daughter's coat, I truly hope they know that my daughter will learn from this behavior of yours to do the right thing and not the wrong.

How do you teach your children about stealin

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  1. You did SUCH a great job with your explanation to her!

  2. This is such a great way to explain stealing to a child!

  3. OH man, I bet this wasn't easy, but you explained it so well.
    You're such a good momma!

  4. It's tough explaining things that are upsetting and wrong to our kids. You handled it really well.

  5. I feel like this is a good lesson to learn at that age! In a safe environment, it might be good to learn that not everyone has our same moral standards but that shouldn't change how we act.

  6. I feel so sad for your daughter! That's a tough lesson to learn and a shame that someone else forced it on you. But yay for the teachable moment! You did so well and I am taking a page out of your book for whenever something similar happens to my toddler.

  7. Wow thats crazy, but you did such an amazing job explaining the issue.

  8. Unfortunately, it's the first in a long lesson that not all people are nice and caring -- but great job turning that into an opportunity to boost her self confidence and make it a teachable moment!

  9. Oh man this is such a big topic for kids. My kids thought it was funny to put things in their pocket to hide from mom. I had to explain how serious it was.


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