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 stealing?