Childhood ADHD and Stealing: What's Going on with Your Kid?
It's common for children with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) to steal from family members and friends. Knowing ADHD is probably behind a child's stealing behavior doesn't make it less frustrating, of course, nor less scary. After all, outside our homes, stealing is illegal. Parents of children with mental illnesses already worry enough about our kids ending up in the legal system. It's important, then, to figure out what might be causing our children with ADHD to steal.
Four Reasons Your Child with ADHD Might Steal
Stealing is so common in children with ADHD that many wonder if stealing is a symptom of ADHD. There are four reasons why your child with ADHD is stealing. Knowing them can help you be a better parent.
1. Your Child with ADHD May Steal to Meet Personal Needs
Some children might find certain items comforting so they take them. Some may be bored and grab the first thing to occupy them. For my son, he's usually hungry. ADHD medications commonly cause decreased appetite. While on meds during the day, my son eats practically nothing. Then, at night, he becomes ravenous. If your child has disruptive mood dysregulation disorder (DMDD) like mine, nothing triggers an outburst better than being "hangry".
My family has a years-long habit now of leaving out healthy snacks while locking our cabinets and fridge at night. Otherwise, my son steals things. Once, when he was little, he stole an entire cake and hid it under his bed. He rarely understands why we get upset, arguing that he was just hungry and needed food.
2. Child May Lack Impulse Control or Have Lowered Executive Functioning
I mentioned this when discussing childhood ADHD and lying, but symptoms of ADHD include lack of impulse control and poor executive functioning. For instance, when my son sees money lying around at home, he'll take it. He considers the immediate reward of having money to buy candy. He does not think past the candy-buying to the point where he gets in trouble for stealing.
So far, this behavior is limited to our home. We ground him when it happens, but the best we can do to prevent it is to remove the opportunity. When he's older, with better-developed executive functioning, we may change our response. For now, we just make sure money isn't lying around.
3. Conduct Disorders Cause Kids with ADHD to Steal
While it's not the case for my son, conduct disorder may be at play in some kids with ADHD, DMDD, or oppositional defiant disorder (ODD). Conduct disorder is defined as a pattern of behaviors that violate the basic rights of others. Age-appropriate norms are purposely violated. Children with this disorder may enjoy upsetting people and breaking rules. They typically know right from wrong.
This is much different than simply lacking impulse control or not anticipating consequences. If you suspect your child has conduct disorder, consult your pediatrician immediately.
4. Remember Your Child's Stage of Development Is Not the Same as His Peers
Finally, for some kids, they haven't reached the developmental stage in which they understand the moral implications of stealing. Toddlers, for instance, steal all the time. We don't get offended. We may not even call it stealing. As parents, we simply tell them it's "not nice" and make them give back the item they took.
Part of the definition of mental illness is that symptoms affect "normal" development. It's hard, as a parent of a child with mental illness, then, to know if our kids' behaviors are typical or not. A provider once told me I should expect my son to always be about three years behind his peers in behavioral and emotional control. I don't know if this is scientifically valid, but it does seem to be the case. My daughter is three years younger than my son. She does not have a mental illness. The two kids operate at about the same emotional and behavioral level.
What I'm saying is, if your child has a behavioral disorder and they are stealing, don't assume they're "bad". They may not yet have developed the same moral reasoning as other kids their age. They may not yet comprehend how stealing affects other people. We may simply need to continue reinforcing norms and expectations until they finally get them.
David, M. (2017, December 4). Childhood ADHD and Stealing: What's Going on with Your Kid?, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2023, October 2 from https://www.healthyplace.com/blogs/parentingchildwithmentalillness/2017/12/childhood-adhd-and-stealing
Author: Melissa David
My son has just turned 12, he's been stealing from me for months, he finally confessed to me today when I told him £100 doesn't just evaporate. I'm running out of hiding places for the cash. I've stopped his allowance forever, as he'll be 19 before he's paid me back. 7 years! We're very poor and I really can't afford this. He says he'll never steal again, but he said that the last time, when he was 8. He understands that things could have gone a lot worse if he hadn't confessed. How can I help him to stop?
hey im a 13 year old kid i steal i dont like too but i cant stop and i dont steal light amounts i steal thousands now my dad in debt beacuse of me and i feel bad but i cant stop i been doing it since im 5 and i been trying to stop it had gotten a little better and im trying to be a better person in life can i get some advice please
Finding this article and comment thread has made me feel like I'm not floating around alone for the first time. I've been struggling with an adhd child for years now. She turned 13 last week, and was diagnosed 4 years ago. Her urge to steal is seemingly uncontrollable. We've tried dealing with it in so many ways, yet nothing seems to work. The hoarding of food and wrappers, the stealing and sneaking of food, toys, trinkets, anything that catches her eye really. It is exhausting and disheartening. I've had to lock our fridge and freezer, cupboards, laundry room, my room and bathroom, home office etc. I even had to pull her put of public school this year due to some things I caught her stealing from school. Every time it seems like she is doing better I end up finding kut she is just getting better at hiding things and better at sneaking, getting stealthier. I've never met anyone else going through these things, I also don't talk to mant people about it, but the few people I do juat don't understand. Up until now I've thought I was alone and that perhaps there was something worse at play, or maybe I've failed her as a mother. Seeing that this isn't uncommon for children with adhd makes me feel not so alone.
We are dealing with the same issues with our son. We have not had him diagnosed yet but this article is making us think we should. We have 4 children and the youngest is the one that we have concerns with. He steals snacks and items from the fridge. He hides all the items he steals and eats in various areas around his room. We have to put all the kids halloween/Christmas candy high up on the pantry shelves because he will not only eat his, but he will eat theirs. We also find random trinkets in his backpack and when asked where he got them, he always tells us his friends gave them to him. And thats normally an ordeal getting him to tell us in the first place. When confronted, he shuts down and refuses to talk. Or he goes into screaming fits. Its stressing and we are so lost with how to deal with this. We will be talking to his doctor this week.
I find this article and your wording quite disturbing. I have ADHD and so do my sons, to have it described as a mental illness is awful. We are wired differently, we aren't ill. You can't catch it and it doesn't come and go, that's just how we are made. It isn't triggered by something like depression or schizophrenia are.
I sincerely hope you don't word it that way to your child as that will have a lasting and devastating impact on his confidence.
In the psychological/medical world ADHD is considered a mental illness ma’am. This is why the medication is prescribed by a psychologist; and why most patients with ADHD are a behavioral therapist as well. Most people I know who had ADHD as a child also have bipolar disorder when they become an adult. There’s nothing wrong with it. Everything is treatable. Her wording is actually on point and quite refreshing.
I fully agree. My son has adhd and not once have I have thought of it seen it referred to as a mental illness. Just in this article. Glad I am not alone in feeling this way Christina.
I have adhd, it is classified as a mental illness. There is nothing wrong with that, so shame to it. Like diabetes it is a medical condition that by acknowledging the areas I need help with allow me to overcome.
As a person with adhd all yall are pretty dumb and are pretty bad parents after reading some of these tbh theres this crazy thing called a allowance and if you reward him (which stimulates and promotes healthy dopamine responses) for him doing house chores then he would have money which would mean he wouldnt have the urge to steal (shocker i know)
All the best parents who know it all don’t actually have children. You sir, obviously don’t have children.
As a parent of two children with ADHD and having it myself, I can say that this article from ADDitude really works. When a child is used to being the failure, they give up as a defense mechanism. This makes behavior worse.
I know the strategies an the article are not the knee-jerk response parents want to have. I know it sounds like "going too easy on them" or some variation of that idea. I also know that ADHD brains are wired differently, and don't respond well to discipline and punishment that "works on standard (neurotypical) children." Children can tell when parents have written them off, or despise them.
When is the last time you as an adult did what someone asked you to do, when they consistently insulted and or punished you (worth very little to no complements or praise)? I imagine, the first response would be defiance. If it was a boss, wouldn't you quit? Well, children can't do that, so in the same situation, they quit trying, and that looks a lot like the behaviors we are trying to stop.
Discipline has it's place, it just needs to be added to the back end of consistent strategies with planning ahead and rewards for even the smallest good behaviors. When a parent knows what sets their child off, they can help avoid the situation or confrontation. If that sounds too lenient, think for a moment if as an adult, you avoid things you know will set you off? It is teaching life skills, which they desperately need. Punishment doesn't do that, but being an example, and breaking it down verbally (step by step) consistently over time helps.
This will work much better After making a point to praise the child for even the smallest good behavior, for even a week or two first.
For example, if a child raids the pantry at night or in the morning, have high protein snacks and fruit out on the counter, and lock up the Sweets if your have to. Most adults can't control sugar cravings, how are children with lower impulse control, and lower dopamine in the brain supposed to do it?
Here are a few excerpts.
And when you repeatedly punish a child for behavior he can’t control, you set him up to fail. Eventually, their desire to please you evaporates. He thinks, “Why bother?” The parent-child relationship suffers as a result.
In their quest to quash behavior problems, many parents overlook all the positive ways in which their child behaves. The resulting negativity can cast a pall over the household that affects every aspect of life.
“Retrain yourself to look at the positives,” says Dr. Severe. “Catch your child being good or doing something well, and praise her. When you point out and praise desirable behaviors, you teach her what you want — not what you don’t want.”
According to social psychologist Barbara Fredrickson, Ph.D., research shows that a ratio of three positive comments for every one critical comment results in the best outcomes in terms of fostering well-being, building resilience, and maintaining healthy relationships. This Losada ratio has been covered extensively in Fredrickson’s 2009 book, Positivity (#CommissionsEarned) and her 2013 follow-up Love 2.0
It’s perfectly normal to feel angry at your child from time to time. It’s not OK to continually shout at her. You wouldn’t dream of screaming and swearing at friends or coworkers, so you know you can control your anger if you must.
Next time your child does something that causes your blood to boil, leave the room, take a few deep breaths, or do something else to calm yourself. When you demonstrate self-calming techniques in this way, you teach your child the importance of managing her emotions.
If you do lose your temper, do not hesitate to apologize to your child.
I appreciate this reply I just learned some new techniques I'm going to try. I'm struggling as a mom and I don't really know how to help him other than get frustrated. And I know frustration isn't the answer and won't solve anything. If you have any other tips can u email some links or tips. Thank u and God bless
Linz, thank you for this. The struggle is real and I need all the positive energy to get through life with my ADHD child
I give my 13 year old daughter £10 a week, plus other bits of change throughout the week for school etc. she gets new clothes/shoes and stuff bought regularly. But I’ve recently discovered she’s been stealing money from me. I have no idea how much but I think about £200-300 if I had to estimate. She’s came home from school today with brand new trainers that she said were her friends but her friends just messaged asking did she take them out of her bag. I’m at my wits end and duno what to do 2bh. Came here for some information because I believe hers is a genuine urge/impulse to steal
I’m just going through this now but he’s been caught stealing from lickers at his school, so niw it might become a police matter.
My daughter has been stealing for years. She is now 18 has a job and earns her money but will still steal from me, her sister and niece. After reading this article I now believe that it is all linked to adhd. She has only just been diagnosed even though I have been fighting this since she was 3, we even padlocked our bedroom doors and she just broke in. I cry every night and it’s making me I’ll but she still can’t stop
As nice as it would be for this to be the case, it is definitely not always that simple. In my experience with my daughter, your theory is not correct. Also it is not true or very nice to call parents "bad parents" or dumb. just because something may work for you does not mean that it works for everyone.
My daughter had adhd and steals money. She is given an allowance every week and earns more money by doing chores. What, as an adhd sufferer, do you suggest I do to to stop this?
She is using the money to buy sweets and chocolate and I find countless sharing bags of sweets and crisps stashed down the back of her bed. I give her what she would like for lunch (a pack of crisps, sandwich, drink and small chocolate bar) and then a healthy dinner but she still steals. If I find her stealing and stop her going out she pretends to her friends that I don't feed her so they buy things for her.
I don't think I'm a bad mother so as an adhd sufferer please could you advise what I should do to help her and protect my other children (I can't hide their things or their money).
My son does the same thing. The money he takes is always to buy sweets and junk, it's an addiction. As an ADHD sufferer myself I can tell you that the compulsion to eat sugar to get your brain functioning at a normal level is all consuming. I have eaten until I've made myself sick. I know it was because of adhd because the moment I took meds the compulsion completely disappeared. Unfortunately it's a vicious cycle as the comedown leads to more sugar intake needed.
I can't offer advice as I have the same problem with my son but I just wanted you to know that it's very normal with ADHD.
My daughter get allowances, sweets and still steals them. All the positive can be blown with her lies and stealing. We are completely at a loss until she is medicated.
I do respite for a 12 year old with ADHD and autism. Before he comes for his overnight breaks I ensure that the house is set up to removed the risks of him taking things (e.g. I remove my house phone from the charger and put it out of sight - it’s something he’s taken home in the past). I have specific trousers I wear when I have him that grave lots of pickers so I always have my mobile and TV controller on me!! As for food he is forbidden here from going in kitchen cupboards or the fridge. However I have small pots which I fill with fruit and the odd snack and replace these on my counter top as he takes them. I’ve chosen to mitigate the risk of him taking things as he has done in the past. I only have him once a week for an overnight (24 hours) and my family are grown up so I’m lucky that I can give him all my time and attention and join his world for that time. It’s harder for parents juggling family life and these issues. But reducing the risk of it happening and therefore not having to deal with it is working in my situation. I’m also lucky to have a lot of storage space with locks so can put things away that he had taken before. I have no idea if this will be helpful but doing this means his time with me is so much less challenging and much happier for him.
My 12 year old son has a real bad stealing and lying problem. I thought he was getting better but since school has been out due to Covid19, he's lying frequently. His cousins have lived with us for over 4 years. He just stole his cousin's Bluetooth headphones saying he got them from a friend, when there is no way! I tried to see the possibility that he was telling the truth. He now claims he 'thought' he got them from his friend because they were on his (my son's) bed so he assumed they were his. The thing is, he doesn't insist that he's telling the truth like someone would generally do if they were upset someone didn't believe them. It's like he doesn't even care. He just keeps up with the inconsistent story.
This is exactly the same for my 9 years old of elder twins (diagnosed ADHD in early 2020, required medication but we try to delay starting it with hope he could improve with more attention). he recently steal at the shop and got caught. after probing him and realised that on average he steals at least 1-2 times per week. this has last for at least 2 years. He always giving excuses like got it from friends or he "thought"....
when confronted him, he claimed that he knows stealing is wrong, but he couldnt control at the moment when he steal. he will acted so innocent, and understand everything and promised not to repeat. but he repeat the same not long after the episode, he behaves like doesnt care, and always keeps up with many inconsistent stories..
How should parents response and deal with these repetitive episodes?
You take said item back to the store with the kid, ask for the manager, make the kid pay for it, then you take the item you just forced him to pay for, and throw it in the trash can under the cash register. Then you tell them, if they are caught again, that this will go on, and eventually the police will show up. If you don't do this with the kid, he will not understand. They are more concrete thinkers, and understand when they do something physical. Not imagining the police showing up for petty larceny. They understand everything, if you physically take them to the store, and demonstrate it for them. They can see the shop owner/managers face, and everyone's actions.
My then 6 year old stole from the store and we did just that - took him to store to see store manager, had discussion on why we don't steal, who it hurts when we do and paid for the item. He started medication shortly after many struggles but now that he's 8, those habits are creeping back not just in stores but at school too. He is taking things or coercing others to give him things and then trading away those things and lying about it. I understand he struggles with social interactions but this is not the way to go about it. If we didn't find out about the stealing/coercing, he wouldn't even try to fix it, doesn't seem to care who is hurt How can I get it through to him his actions hurt others and himself/his relationship with others?
The children being referred to are not stealing from stores. Yes, if it was something in a store you could reach a lesson but kids with ADHD who do this past the typical age are usually taking things that they don’t even need to take. Just today my daughter who’s a few days away from 9 had her backpack in the bathroom so I knew there was a reason, I found all her little sisters nail polish in there (she is not a fan of makeup or nail polish - she doesn’t want nails painted) and I found a handful of long screws that came from her little brothers crib, and one of his beat up hot wheel cars. These children do realize it is wrong to steal but they continue to steal from their family and friends.
As someone who struggled with this up until early adulthood. Ef you big time. This is exactly what my parents did to me, when I’d steal from them they would pack my belonging and take me in their car ‘to leave abandoned’. I never received any help whatsoever, nobody tried to understand that I couldn’t hhelp myself. I was constantly shamed, punished, beaten, threatened. They have told all of my friends about it, all of my teachers, despite me never stealing anything from anybody else but my parents. I lost my friends, I was ashamed and embarrassed. I started skipping school previously been a straight a student. I fell so much behind I have barely finished high school. An d my life now could have been so much different have my parents had any brain capacity to seek help. So ef you Lindsay. My parents forgave me as parents do, yet I will never be able to forgive them for ruining my life
And this is part of the problem... inability and unwillingness to take responsibility for your own actions. I have adhd as well and I was not running around stealing everyone’s stuff. That’s a choice. .
Exactly. Thank you.
ADHD is a spectrum, experienced differently by different individuals, so screw you.
As an ADHD gremlin myself, I stole from an early age and thoroughly hated myself for it, but it literally hurt me to fight against the urge. My parents thought me utterly disgusting, until they got my diagnosis and finally said a meaningful sorry, for the first time in my memory.
Your experience is not everybody. Don't be a git, please, I'm sick of self-righteous people ruining my mood. You're not the embodiment of ADHD just because you have it.
This is terrible honestly you’re making your child believe that he can’t get caught. Don’t embarrass your child they’ll never forget it. Teach them not to steal see why they stole even try to come and understand. Somewhat my parents did because I had no actual reason to steal I just like to steal
I have a nephew who is now 13yoa, has been in my custody since he was 16mos. Unfortunately, I didn't know he had ADHD, until he was 8yoa. I already had two teenage girls, and figured his behavior had to do with him being an over active boy. I had to give him up when he was 8yoa, cause he kept running away, stealing neighbors properties off their yard and trying to set the community we live in on fire. I was forced to give him up and just recently got him after 3 years, and still portray some of the behaviors, mainly lying, stealing and getting suspended in school. I am over it, I figure he just going to get worst as he gets older. On top of that, I am raisings my 4 yoa who is being exposed to such behaviors. I am considering to see if his mom will take him or back or foster care. Any thoughts would be helpful.
All these stories sound all too familiar and cannot sympathize enough. My 8 yr old step son has ADHD and possible ODD. I won't sit here and retell you stealing stories nor the endless battles we have with him for the simplest things. I will tell you what is working. We recently bought cameras and placed one directly pointing at his bed. We have been battling late night grazing and stealing for far too long and we finally decided we had enough. Our pantry is locked and also has surveillance. We often feel like we are prisoners in our own home because its endless with him. Since we put cameras up he no longer even attempts to get up. He tells us that his anxiety is less at night because he feels that theres always someone in the room with him. (two way audio to talk to him and calm him down at bedtime) If you are reading this and think it's too harsh or drastic. We have tried everything else..from setting flour to see footsteps in the am to staying in his room until he falls asleep. He would wait for the last bit of rattling from the masterbed to tell him that it was his opportunity to start a party while we were asleep. His psychiatrist said that it could be ritualistic at this point( OCD). He is on meds and eventhough it helps it doesn't last long. All in all, hang in there parents. Consistency is key at home. Thank you all for sharing.
Oh wow this sounds like my 11 year old he dose same thing been doing it sense he was 5 me and his dad has had enough!! Dose camera really work?? I'm gonna try if it dose.
I would love to do this but my 2 foster kids and am told this is illegal and invasion if their privacy and not letting them access needs of food which is child a use.
We have no ideas on what else to do.
They don’t care about consequences at do it again same day or night
That was so unhelpful and so frustrating. Though it was nice to read that I'm not alone. Locking up everything you have and not leaving anything laying around is not really helpful. Nor does it solve the problem because it will extend out of the home in any area they feel comfortable. I'm sorry if I'm being negative, I'm just dying inside. I have ADHD but coupled with my Anxiety and my own conformist mindset steeling is not something I've dealt with. My almost teen says she didn't steal but always has a fairly believable (but not quite) story of why she has something she shouldn't. Usually, somebody else stole it and she's in the process of returning it. Sometimes it's the simple I wanted it and nobody would mind (taking from her sisters). Or "I wanted to buy a snack at school." My other half swears we just need to use harsher and harsher consequences till she gets it. I'm lost because I don't think that's the answer but don't know what the answer is.
My daughter is 7 and I always get the same response, I wanted it and they told me they didn't want it or didn't mind. So frustrating. She was bringing new stuff home in her bookbag 3+times a week! Then she just stole from my friend's daughter. Embarrassing.
Jenny you could be describing my daughter! She is also 7 and I empty stuff out of her school bag almost daily now. I find it so embarrassing but she always has an excuse that’s almost plausible. Last week she stole a running medal from her school running club and told me she’d won it for coming second. When I asked the club leader yesterday he was clueless. I do t know how to handle it! What do you do?
My son was diagnosed at the age 5 with ADHD, PTSD. He was placed in my home at the age of 2 1/2 with is 3 1/2 year old sister. It's been 10+ years and it seems he is getting worse than better, I have had several services working with me. CDS, HTC, BPA, kids peace, Acadia Mental health for children. Today he stole 3 items from school. He struggles with boundaries and feels he knows everything. Now he is suspended from school for 3 days. His teachers have been great with him. The principal has gone above and beyond. I'm so frustrated for all I have given him and it's like he doesn't care. Last year he spend 3 months doing day treatment programs. It seem like he was trying for the first 3 days. Then said it was stupid and gave up. After he completed the program, he was diagnosed with 6 different diagnosis; I'm worried about his future. Like you stated he knows right from wrong, being almost 13 years old. Yet he can't control him self when he feels strong about something.
Anyone else understanding my worries, frustration? I'm not giving up!!!
I feel like you are describing my son exactly. He started stealing and being defiant when he was 3 years old and of course, it has only gotten worse. He tells me that he steals from us because he isn't allowed to have those things. He is 6 now and was probably suspended 15 different times in Kindergarten 😒 And now the stealing is so bad, he's up ALL night long when he should be sleeping and giving his brain energy to steal whatever he can find downstairs. We are past the "don't overreact and calmly tell him it's bad" phase. There is a loft on top of our closet that will have a bed and a toilet. Seems kind of extreme but we are done being victimized and abused by him. Especially his step dad who doesn't deserve this. If we eliminate the want/need to steal in our home, that's the best that we can do. I feel that we have done our absolute best. And it's difficult because it makes me view him differently which of course isn't fair. An example, just this morning I found cooked leftover steak in his room that hadn't been touched sitting in his room at room temperature. So I basically just threw away money. 😢 It's all very sad and we've had to find ways to cope.
This is my son as well. In fact this morning I found out that he snuck downstairs in the middle of the night, into our bedroom and grabbed our Nintendo switch. He then decided he needed to buy a new game for it and spent $50.00 of our grocery money. Mind you we have this game on another device and no one plays it. I feel like I am a prisoner in my own home. I’m lost as to what to do. I’ve started bringing anything he’s gotten in to into my room but now he’s sneaking in there as well. Nothing is safe.
My son is 11 and he was diagnosed with ADHD at the age of 5 and now that he is 11 he has been diagnosed with ODD and his lying and stealing is out of control he is very disrespectful and does not know when to stop. It becomes stressful due too i have 4 other children and he has 2 younger brothers who follow in his footsteps he has learned how to manipulate others around including his therapist. As you stated I will not give up I need for my son to be the best version of his self
Nancy, first of all, I want to say thank you for not giving up!!!!! My son is 9 has stolen a money from his teacher(acording to teacher)!!!! My son's story, he found it and didn't want to tell the truth straight away as he is not allowed to have money at school......
So, it seems like the struggle ir REAL and we just have to be as understandable as possible and find the way we can help our children to be able coexsist with (normal) neurotypical people around them.....
My 10 year old stole a wax scented candle refill kit for an electric plug in scented candle product at Walmart yesterday. He was there with his grandmother, where he was picking out any toy he wanted. He went off by himself and got this in his pocket I suppose, and then when he came home, left it near the back door where my 12 year old found out. We do not buy such products, or own anything like it. He could not have known what the refill product was for (other than that he could smell it), or needed or wanted it in any way. He did it for attention, or to see if he could get away with it, or for attention. He loves his grandmother coming, though they see her as a free ride, a break from the rules we have in our house. My mother wants to be an indulgent grandmother, and over the years, we have relented and if she wanted to take them to a store and buy them something we wouldn't we have went along with it, but this has been a source of trouble. So, I'll admit, I lost it when this all came out last night. Not my finest hour, but truth be told, I am thinking that I have had few fine hours in parenting my youngest boy. He has ADHD - no diagnosis for conduct disorder, and we have been unable to access a pediatrician to make changes to his medications that I think need to be made due to a shortage of those services in our region. That's me venting/complaining/explaining.
Here's the question: I am getting from the tenor of the material on the internet that the professional advice is to affirm the child, remind him that these behaviours hurt, and cause harm to him, us and the world, of course, take him to Walmart (which we will do today) where he can make recompense (with our money and time), use consistent consequences. We have been doing all that. And occasionally doing things not recommended like yelling, which I did yesterday. It's getting worse, not better. I am shocked, ashamed and frankly hopeless. Most of all I am worried. In my work I see what happens to kids who keep on these kinds of trajectory. I cannot bear that being his life, and so, I am trying to discover what, at this juncture can I put in place to reasonably dissuade him from these kinds of behaviours.
Your last paragraph really hit home. My youngest son just turned 11 and he has ADHD. Until a few months ago ADHD mainly meant he was hyperactive, lacked focus, struggled in school and with reacting inappropriately to emotional situations. Since then his disability has escalated. He has developed an anxiety disorder where he was compulsively vomiting for a while, has had other medical issues related to his digestive track that I believe are triggered from anxiety and has even had a panic attack. He is seeing a really good child psychologist, and she explained that the vomiting is a psychosomatic symptom of him not expressing his emotions and bottling them up. He is getting a lot better on that front with therapy. However, lately he is getting into trouble more at school with making poor choices and yesterday I found a small amount of marijuana in his coat.
I was devastated and reacted in a crazed manner, yelling and crying, trying to get him to tell me what it was doing there. He was very remorseful and crying as well. After attempting to lie, he finally admitted that he stole it from his dad's house (I do not indulge in drugs or condone it). His dad is a heavy drinker as well (although he is not supposed to drink around our son), so I am not sure if that has anything to do with my son's behaviour?? Maybe the emotional trauma from having an alcoholic parent is taking its tole on a child who already faces so many challenges?? Because of his difficulties talking about his feelings I am worried he is holding back and the situation at his dad's is not healthy. He said he does not know why he stole it, and I know without a doubt that he is not doing drugs, but it is the scariest thing I have ever gone through as a parent. He told me he also stole a phone charger from a store.
I made him call his dad and tell him what he did which was extremely difficult for him, he feels so bad that his dad will no longer trust him. One of the emotions he has the hardest time dealing with is shame. His dad told me he hides the marijuana from him and he thought something was up the weekend before when it was moved. After my son and I calmed down, we talked about stealing and worked on a strategy for him to recognize what he is feeling when he takes something, how he can learn to stop himself when he feels that way.
I think his impulse control is very low and I am so worried about him. My younger brother is ADHD, and although the situation is different with my son because there are so many more resources these days to help parents, I am so scared my baby is going to end up like my brother. My brother is an alcoholic and drug addict. He can't hold down a job and flies off the handle all the time, so no one wants to be around him.
If it makes you feel any better, you are not alone. Just hang in there and keep doing what you are doing. I can think of two adults off the top of my head that I work with now that are ADHD and they are university educated and successful in their work. They openly talk about how they have learned ways to deal with their disabilities so they can have good lives. With love (sometimes tough love) and perseverance, I am praying our boys will be okay too!
I think I have adhd... I cantthink control myself to steal tomoney my parents
I'm praying for you that you recive healing from this thing my daughter is 10 and has been stealing praying it stops soon
Suffering from same problem, want to contact a doctor for this problem
I am so thankful for everyones comments, it's nice not to feel so alone. Me and a few of my friends deal with the food thing, I find it funny possibly because I understand it. My eldest is 12 so if she snuck something unhealthy I tend to make her do laps and pushups to counter it. I also inforce that she can eat what she needs to but it should be healthy and has to be in the kitchen. Knowing she won't get into trouble helps get rid of the sneaking (though not totally). Yesterday she stole $20 from my purse (the last of my grocery money) I was not pleased but not really angry either, though I did tell her I was because I knew I should be, she was very remorseful. She used it to buy food at school. She admitted it to me without much probing and I appreciate that more than anything. She also told me right off that she would work to replace the money. I just wish I knew that she wouldn't steal from others. So far it hasn't been an issue.
I too need some advise. My daughter just turned 9 and we have been dealing with her stealing for a few years but it seems to be getting worse. I received a call again today from my daughters principal about her stealing for the 3rd time this school year but also she does it at home or the store. She shows no remorse about stealing and discipline doesn't seem to work. Im so lost as what to do next to get this to stop. Please any advise.