Here's my current situation - I have 2 boys (10 & 12). They are home by themselves for roughly 1.5 hours a day and they seem to do nothing but rummage through the house & take what they want. So far their stealing has only consisted of taking food & change (money). Over the past 2 years my husband & I have resorted to stashing some food items in our room. It consists of junk food & non refridgerated items for their lunches. However, this has not stopped them from going in & taking what they want. We had a huge bowl of candy left over from Halloween that has slowly disappeared. The sad thing is, they ALWAYS get caught. I had a jar of sugar free chocolate ice cream sauce in the fridge that I had had only 1 spoonful of & when I checked it a few days ago, it was almost gone. When asked about it they first lie & then point the finger to the other. The big problem is, their sorry excuse for a father is a habitual liar & a criminal thief. They have had little contact with this man but I am so worried that they have somehow inherited these horrible genes. My husband (their step-dad) has tried for the past 2 years to break them out of these horrible habits. We've taken almost everything away from them and grounded them but the punishment obviously doesn't affect them because they turn around & do it again. In the past year, I would say these 2 have been grounded more than they've been ungrounded. I don't even want them at other people's houses for fear that they'll just take from them. I don't know what else to do. Sometimes I feel my only option is to resort to paddling which my parents did to me & I sure as heck learned my lesson but that just opens up a whole other can of worms. Some coworkers & my mother feel we are just too hard on them but my husband & I don't see that. They have gone too long without a father figure (their entire lives except the last 2 years) and I wasn't always the greates when it came to enforcing punishments. We are trying hard to prepare them for life outside this house & so that they will be able to stand on their own 2 feet & be great men. I fear we are trying too late. Does anyone have any suggestions, tips, advice...SOMETHING? I don't know if we should try to send them to a behavorial camp of some sorts, get the cops involved to scare them or...i don't know. Please, someone give me just a little advice.
1. Why are they not allowed to HAVE food, as opposed to "stealing" it? I mean it's their house, too. You are their parents and provide for them, correct? I'm not trying to sound condescending, but that just seems odd. That you refer to them taking food from a house they live in as "stealing".
I understand you wanting to have treats & what not for the WHOLE family to enjoy, but you have 2 growing boys that eat like trash compactors. Shoot! My 6 year old already eats like that. And I find myself having to buy for what seems like 2 extra people because of the way my boy eats... and he's just ONE boy.
So with all that said... if it's them taking the sweets (which kind of what is implied by the info you have provided) separate it. In a separate cupboard and have limitations set on who, what, when, where, & how much. And abide by those limitations and hold them to it. Such as: One twinkie a day after school and no more! If you break this limitation you cannot have another one for 3 days (or some such time limit). You are the parent assert yourself as such.
2. The money. It's chump change. I'm not saying it should be over looked, but instead of punishing them. Make them earn it. My boy wants a new video game, I told him I couldn't afford it & he's more than welcome to save up for it himself (remind you he's 6). So if he helps beyond his regular chores (garbage duty is his main one, and cleaning up after himself) I'll pay him justly. He's helped me shovel the sidewalks, helped both me & his yaya with the dishes, helped me sweep & mop all because he took the liberty upon himself to 1. Want to help 2. He's being responsible and self-reliant by saving his $ to buy his own game.
Maybe paying your boys an allowance or do like I do & reward him for his extra effort around the house would curb their tendency to take loose change that isn't theirs?
Best of to you and yours =)
Last edited by lonesomesmomma; 12-08-2010 at 05:05 PM. Reason: Need some spacing
Single Momma to my wonderful (mostly ornery) little man:
J.Andrews: July 24
I doubt they've inherited bad genes or a tendency to steal and lie. I think they are bored, alone, and stupid. Yep, I said it: stupid. Most kids are stupid when left to their own devices. They do it because they can. There's a bowl of candy, they want the candy, they eat the candy, they get caught, so they lie and then blame someone else. That's actually very normal from a developmental point of view. That's not to say you have to put up with it, just that they are doing what lots of kids would do in that situation. They keep doing it because they figure at some point, you'll give up on the consequences, especially if that's ever happened before. You know how they are - give 'em an inch, they'll take a mile. They're testing. That's what they do. It's how we as parents handle it that counts.
I think the point here is that they are getting into things that they are not supposed to, that they've been told not to. So that's the first thing to address: what is and is not allowed. They take too many sweets and junk food? Simple solution: no junk food or sweets, at all, anywhere in the house, for a month. They need to eat after school - and as growing boys, they need to eat a LOT. So let them know what snacks are allowed, and then ONLY BUY THOSE. If it's not there, they can't "steal" it. My kids can eat all the fruit and yogurt they want, but we don't have chips, soda, candy, ice cream after school. Period. No one NEEDS junk food, so just get rid of it and then it's not an issue. Tell them, "If you boys can prove some self control and earn back some trust, we might slowly introduce these things as we see fit. Or not."
ANY theft of money is a problem. I don't care if it's a quarter or a twenty, if it's not yours, don't take it! End of story! I believe in giving kids a weekly allowance so that they can earn money and learn to manage it. But I DO NOT believe in paying kids to do regular chores. You live here? You help clean up. So assign chores for each kid, some self care and some family care. Everyone picks up their own crap, puts away their own laundry, wipes up their own bathroom messes. My 6 yr old empties the trash, sets the table, clears the table, makes her own bed, feeds pets. My 8 yr old dusts, loads the dishwasher, feeds pets, helps with cooking. Anything BEYOND regular chores, I will offer a small stipend. For instance, I hate wiping down the blinds, so I offer my kids a couple of dollars for doing that chore. If they are saving for something special, I'll give them a few ways to earn more money. But they'll have to work, and work hard - no made up nonsense "chores". They'll pick up dog poop, rake leaves, weed my garden, etc.
But the bigger issue, to me, is supervision. Clearly, they do not need to be left alone. I am a teacher, and I can tell you that there are very few 10 or 12 yr olds that could be safely home alone, together, for that long each day. I can barely trust them to walk down the hall alone. Most states, in fact, prohibit parents from leaving kids under 14 home alone. They are just too young to truly know how to handle emergencies, to get along, to follow abstract rules in the absence of adults. I'd say, tell your boys that you can no longer trust them home alone, that they will need a sitter, or to stay with a neighbor, or an older teen from your neighborhood, whatever, for that time. Perhaps, if they show themselves to be trustworthy and reliable, they can try again in a year or so. Or perhaps they'll have to stay at an after school program like when they were younger.
Just to be clear. Few states have any law as to the age limit for children being left home alone. The age commonly recommended is 12; however, a child of any age cannot be left home alone if they are not mature enough. Leaving a child home alone who is not ready falls under neglect and child abuse.
That said, I'm not saying you are abusing or neglecting your children. I just wanted to make it clear that most states do not have a law that prohibits children under the age of 14 being left home alone.
I'll keep my recommendation short. First, the previous responses are all correct. So I will not rehash those. What I would recommend is (if at all possible) that you temporarily not leave them home alone. I would entrust them to a close friend or relative and set very specific rules and guidelines that must be met. Also, just to rehash one recommendation, I would _remove_ the items from the house that they are stealing. Further, I stay away from "grounding" as much as possible. I feel as though grounding a child is similar to spanking (with obvious differences!) in that they are both easy answers. I can quickly and easily tell a my children, "You are grounded!" It is more difficult and time consuming for me to think up an appropriate and natural consequence that truly gets the message across. So instead of grounding, take the time to think through the behavior and the consequences associated. "No more junk food for a month" is probably more appropriate and natural than grounding.
Hope this helps!
I guess after you give punishments to them you better explain why such thing happened. While considering programs to place your teen in look outside of the military boarding schools or boot camps and find a therapeutic program or boys boarding school that will offer structure and firmness and a good uplifting environment to help bring about the desired change.
Enforce rules /policies. Make it clear from the get go that any kind of rule breaking will have consequences in your household. Be consistent and firm about your rules so that your son will take them seriously as well.
Hope everything will be fixed.
Proper supervision and frequent communication is very important at this stage..
Last edited by julianclare; 02-23-2011 at 03:43 AM.