Children stealing money from parents

Dear Diane, My 10-year-old daughter has been stealing from my wallet and my wife’s purse for some time.
diane levy, parenting advice, parenting, family

Dear Diane,

My 10-year-old daughter has been stealing from my wallet and my wife’s purse for some time. Not often, but just now and again. Each time we catch her she is punished and loses privileges but nothing seems to work. This morning I was lying in bed asleep when she crept into my room and took my wallet out of my trousers. She crouched down on the floor at the foot of the bed and took out the money. At that point I spoke up as I was awake. She got up, made up some excuse about what she was doing and left. A little later she crept back in on her hands and knees to where she left my wallet. Once I knew she had reached it I sat up, caught her red handed and took it off her, telling her to get the hell out of my room. What can we do about her? I feel like going to the police and making a criminal complaint against her to really teach her a lesson!

Greg, by email

Dear Greg,

The first question worth asking yourself is, “Why is my daughter seeking money?” By 10, most children are better off having some money to spend. It teaches them the difference between spending now and delaying gratification. It also helps them learn to save and how to think short-term and long-term – how to keep track of how much they have. Then there’s the question of earning pocket money or pocket money by right. Some families believe children help when asked and get pocket money of right; other families believe children should earn their pocket money. If you choose the latter, make sure it’s written up as a task sheet, that chores are regularly supervised and ticked off and that you have the right amount of money vailable on “pay day”. Either way, a 10-year-old needs money of their own. Rather than punish your daughter, I would prefer you get her into the habit of honesty. Keep count of all the money and any that has gone is deemed to have been taken by her. Every day, frisk her and her bag before she leaves the house and, if she is in the clear, congratulate her. When she returns to the house, follow the same steps. Reward her honesty each day with some family time together.

Diane Levy provides expert answers to your parenting queries. Send your questions to: [email protected]. Diane’s parenting books are available in book shops.

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