Teaching Your Child That Stealing Is Wrong

child learning that stealing is wrong

One of the first pieces of the Bible many children learn is the Ten Commandments. They are some of the most important rules Christians can learn and follow! While some of them may be easy to teach your children organically, like reading the Bible, because it’s already a part of your daily routine, some are a little easier to let slide. The eighth commandment, “you shall not steal,” may not even cross your mind as something to teach your child unless they’ve already broken it! Here are some ways you can teach your child to honor the eighth commandment.

Before they’ve stolen anything…

If your child hasn’t stolen anything, now is a great time to lay a strong foundation! Start by teaching them respect for other people’s things, as well as respect for their own. Start by using their name to refer to things that belong to them (like “John’s teddy bear” or “Mary’s blanket”) and your own name to refer to things that are yours (like “mommy’s necklace” or “daddy’s shoes”). As they get older, start teaching them it’s important to ask permission before using other people’s things, because respecting other people’s things matters.

If they’ve stolen something…

It can be hard to confront your child when they’ve done something wrong, but it’s important to do so early before there are more serious consequences. If it comes to your attention your child has stolen something, have an honest conversation with them about it. Ask questions about what they did and why, and if they don’t seem to understand they did something wrong, talk to them about why stealing is wrong. Depending on their age, you may explain to them it hurts other people, that it’s wrong according to the Bible, or that it can have consequences that will hurt their futures. However you talk it over, make sure they experience consequences for their actions, like returning what was stolen or not being able to go to the place they stole something from for a little while.

If they’ve been caught stealing multiple times…

Talk to anyone who may have insight into this situation, and consider consulting your pediatrician or mental health professional. It’s possible their stealing is a symptom or result of an underlying issue, and even if it isn’t, these professionals may be able to help you develop a game plan to stop this behavior for good. Try to stay open and honest with your child about the negative consequences of stealing, and why you’re worried about this behavior. Don’t let anger or frustration take over the conversation! Instead, try to stay focused on problem-solving, and how much you care about your child.

Now, you are ready to start working with your child to teach them that stealing is wrong.

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