What makes a child steal

By M.Farouk Radwan, MSc.

What makes a child steal

What makes a child steal? and what motivates him to take something that doesn't belong to him even if he doesn't need it?

When a parent discovers that his child steals he usually makes the mistake of looking at the stealing act superficially without looking at the drives behind it.

Stealing is like any other action that people take with the exception that its morally unacceptable. Each and every action that a person makes in his life is usually done to fulfill a certain psychological need or a goal.

I am not talking about children who steal because they are starving and badly in need of money but i am talking about children who steal things that they don't need from their friends and children who steal from their parents.

What makes a child steal even if he is not in need of the stolen object?

Why do children steal things they are not in need of?

Why would someone buy a Ferrari while any other great car like a BMW will satisfy his transportation and luxury needs? Its because the Ferrari satisfies one of his important psychological needs which is showing off.

The same exactly goes for children who steal, while they might not be in need of the object they stole they do have a psychological need that stealing satisfies.

Some children steal when they believe that they are getting unfair treatment and so they try to balance things or restore fairness by stealing from the favored friend or sibling.

Some children steal because they want to get attention as a result of feeling neglected. The child thinks that getting some negative attention is better than getting no attention.

Jealousy is one of the powerful factors that make children steal. Its not uncommon for a jealous child to steal from his friends.

Another reason that makes children steel is feeling that they lack something. For example a child who feels he is not loved by his parents might steal things to compensate for that feeling.

There are numerous reasons that could make a child steal but in the end most of them fall under the category of wanting to meet a certain psychological need.

What to do when your child steals?

Of course teaching the child that stealing is morally unacceptable would help prevent the stealing problem but on the other hand that will just bury the underlying psychological need which will then appear in a different form.

The child who is in need of attention might stop stealing as a result of being told that stealing is really bad however sooner or later a new behavior that might be unacceptable too will surface because of the intense need of attention he has.

When attempting to end the stealing problem its very important to understand the reason that makes the child steal so that you could fix the problem from its root in addition to teaching the child how bad stealing is.

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