Need ssome advice (think I've handled it all wrong)

Discussion in 'General Parenting' started by TeDo, Jul 10, 2011.

  1. TeDo

    TeDo Guest

    difficult child has begun shoplifting certain kinds of objects lately and I'm not sure what to do about it. First he started a collection of "cool"-looking disposable cigarette lighters. When I found them (he hid them so he knew it was wrong afterwards), I reminded him it was stealing and that he could go to juvie for it and there would be nothing I could do. He cried hysterically and said he didn't know why he took them except they were cool-looking ones he'd never seen before. I told him that if he did this again, I would make him take them back and apologize and he'd have to deal with the consequences.

    Last night, I saw that he had 2 new interesting looking fingernail clippers. I've never seen any like them before. It turns out he "took them because they were cool-looking". I told him I was gong to take him to the store so he could return them and apologize. His anxiety went through the roof. He cried hysterically and was shaking and got to where it was hard for him to breathe (not from the crying). He kept begging me not to make him do that because he was too ashamed (his words). He came up with the "solution" of taking them to the store and pretend to pick them up and use his own money (what little he has) to pay for them. I told him that I didn't trust that solution to stop him from doing it again. This was all very painful for me to watch.

    I am stuck as to what to do. I have let it go for now so I could get some advice from you wise ones. I know it's the fascination with the objects that compels him to do it. He knows it's wrong but can't seem to help himself in the moment. He's there with his friends (who are buying candy) when he does this and he swears they have no idea he's done this. What should I do?
  2. ready2run

    ready2run New Member

    i would probably follow through on making him take them back since he was already warned of this concequence and it's important to follow through with them once they are laid out. going back on the threat now is only going to teach him that he can get away with it if he gets really upset about it, not a good lesson. i would also not allow him to go to the store with friends(or without, shopping @ his age is a privilege not a right), maybe ground him or not let him out with those friends anymore for a while if you suspect at all that they know about his doing it or are encouraging it. unless he already has a criminal record he will probably just get a slap on the wrist if the shop owner decides to take legal action. at the very least he will be humiliated by the experience and think twice next time he feels the urge.
  3. Star*

    Star* call 911

    FOLLOW THROUGH. IT worked for me......because I found batteries on the floor of Kmart - put them in my pocket - age 5.....Mom "needed" batteries, and we were taught if you found something you could keep it. (not meaning Kmart's floor) and when Mom found out that I had STOLEN batteries I too cried, hyperventilated, and nearly passed out. But try as I may to get out of it? I had to go back into Kmart, snotty and red nosed, crying so hard I couldn't breath, and tell the officer (back then they had a cop that stood at the Blue light desk) that I had STOLEN batteries.

    To this DAY...I have not stolen a single other thing in my life. YOU MAKE HIM TAKE THE CLIPPERS BACK. On the ride there? All the WHAT IS GOING TO HAPPEN TO ME? YOU are SILENT as the grave other than. THAT IS UP TO THE STORE.

  4. DaisyFace

    DaisyFace Love me...Love me not

    Your son is 12.

    That is much different than a pre-schooler helping himself to something at the store. At age 12, he needs to follow through with returning the items.

    It might also be a good idea to "stop by" your local police station and ask whether an officer would be willing to give your son a talkin-to about the ramifications of shoplifting.
  5. KTMom91

    KTMom91 Well-Known Member

    The one time Miss KT was picked up by store security, I hit the door screaming. At HER. I was all over that child like white on rice. The store declined to prosecute after that, though I was willing to have her take a little trip in order to make a good, solid impression.

    He obviously knows it's wrong, as you said, because he's hidden what he's taken. Definitely follow through, and don't let him go shopping without you holding his hand. I'd be willing to bet his friends not only know, but have participated in the shoplifting. Seems to be like a game to some kids (spoken from ten years of retail management experience) and more and more stores are prosecuting.
  6. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    When my two oldest boys were about seven they stole some Star Wars figures which were popular at the time. Without even talking to them about it, I drove them back and made them tell the security guard what had happened, and then let him take it from there. He showed them all the cameras in the store and said there were some in the parking lot too. He took them for a stroll around the store, pointing out all the hidden places and told them how they would call the police next time. I did not go with. Both were scared to death, but did not cry until afterward. I never had a problem after that.

    I also made my daughter take back clothes she had shoplifted and 'fess up. She was thirteen so I told the store that she was available to volunteer to help if they needed her. She was lucky they turned her down. She was told she could never go back to the store or the police would be called. She did a lot of things as a teen, but I don't think she shoplfited again. If she did, she didn't get caught.
  7. DDD

    DDD Well-Known Member

    I took my children back to the store too. Never had another instance..that I'm aware of. on the other hand in our community a number of the stores (Walmart and a major grocery store I know for sure) call the police and the children are taken to the police station. One little girl was six years old. So I'm not sure what my advice to you should be. With ADHD and Aspergers it's hard to figure. Yeah, I know many are shaking their heads as they read my odd response. Absolutely I think there should be home punishment. Absolutely I know it is wrong. Absolutely the merchandise can't be kept. Absolutely I don't think he should be allowed freedom to shop with-o you present. Depending on the store I "think" I would call and ask their advice. Maybe they are old fashioned enough to allow you to bring him, the merchandise and payment from his own money with the cavaet that if it ever happens again he will be turned over to the police. Then..should it ever happen again..let the chips fall as they may. Sorry I'm being vague. I just have a "thing" about little children and elementary kids being treated like adults. I may be wrong. Good luck. DDD
  8. TeDo

    TeDo Guest

    Thanks for the advice everyone. My only problem is that, while difficult child is 12 chronologically, in soooooo many ways he's waaaayyyy behind in maturity. I don't want to scare the begeebers out of him but I do want him to realize how serious it can be. It's the extent of his anxiety at the mere mention of taking it back and apologizing that has me concerned. He has had such a tough time with depression and anxiety since the Risperdal fiasco this spring, I really don't want to push him over the edge. That is what has me questioning what to do. I have already told him that he can't go into a store without me anymore and he didn't even complain about it. He is his own worst critic and disciplinarian.

    I really hate this s***. I sometimes commiserate with him and wish along with him that he was "normal". I hate feeling so helpless!!!
  9. susiestar

    susiestar Roll With It

    It took two tries for Wiz to get the message. Both involving 90 min drives each way and HE had to FILL the gas tank on the way home out of his own pocket. He also had to feed husband, who drove him because I couldn't go the first time. As small kids they each tried it one time. Well, the older two did. thank you didn't, but from a young age he was called Wiz' mini me (he looks like I cloned Wiz) and he did NOT want to be like Wiz - the older bro he idolized and was terrified of at the same time.

    My kids were told that if they stole they had to go back and return the item AND pay for it. They did NOT get to keep it under ANY circumstances and they still HAD to pay for it. If the store chose to prosecute, that was teh store's choice. I would NOT hire a lawyer and would NOT pay for the drives to wherever - THEY would. They also had to tell the manager what they did and apologize. Jess was 4 and would NOT speak to the manager to say what she did or apologize. SO she got a trip to the police station. They actually had someone in the cell at the time and she saw them trying to wrestle with him to get him in there when we walked in. It was a teeny tiny town that is part of Cincy, less than 1 mile square and that was RARE. To this day she can still remember how scared she was. We left that day with-o talking to an officer because they were so busy and the guy was drunk and violent. We went back the next afternoon. She got qutie a talking to from the officers.

    Wiz did similar as a little boy, and he apologized. Then as a teen difficult child at age 13 he did it again. First it was a computer program that we told him he couldn't have. The dollar store didn't care. But he did NOT like driving that long with husband's NPR playing and husband refusing to speak to him. Nor did he like paying for the gas and husband's meal (it was a Sunday when they went and husband hadn't had lunch. husband had just worked four weeks with-o a day off and this was to be his only day off for the enxt few weeks too). The he stole some D&D dice game from my favorite used bookstore in the same town not close to our home. THAT was PAINFUL for him. because he had to face them - and tell three different people until they got the person they wanted to talk to him. She was incredible. Really took time, close to a full HOUR, to speak to him. About how it seemed easy to do now, but had big consequences, how he upset, disappointed and hurt me, and she could tell from seeing us on past visits that he really did love me. She got through in a way no one ever had before. I am fully convinced that she was a big factor in him not ending up in jail.

    I refused to take him back for over a year. I was actually so embarrassed that I didn't go back for six months. When I did return I was suddenly a favorite of all the staff. They really RESPECTED the way I drove him back, made him pay for the gas both ways, made him give the item back AND pay out of his own pocket. They had had a rash of teens stealing and mostly the parents tried to buy their way out of it - and for THOSE kids they called the cops even if it was only worth 99 cents retail. Mostly to teach the parents that they would NOT be baought off. But because I had NO sympathy for my son (who claimed he couldn't remember taking it- "whatever" was my reaction to him, evn though it frustrated the dickens out of me - esp appropriate because he stole from a used bookstore, lol).

    Just recently my 16yo easy child stole from husband and I. From teh bank account via atm WHILE seh was with husband! But when confronted she took three mins to gather her nerve and fessed up right away. returned the money and paid off over half of what she spent and I am pretty darn sure she won't do it again. because she is SCARED of herself when seh did that!
  10. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    Well, I have a son who is also very young for his eighteen years and was young for his years at about twelve. In his case, when he shoplifted, it was taken out of my hands. He has a problem with chronic eating and he stole a bag of potato chips. He stepped outside. Then he had second thoughts, came back in and put it back. One of the employees at the gas station saw that he had stepped outside with the chips without paying so he told the owner. The owner, who knew he was on the spectrum, called the police THEN called us to tell us. Son cried like a two year old child,b ut the cop was firm and unsympathetic and told me t hat, whatever he has, he has to follow the law.

    I believe in being proactive because these things are not always in our hands. My son DID have the bejeezus scared out of him. Even though he was putting the chips back, the cop cornered him and told him he was NOT TO take anything out of the store before he paid for it or that was stealing. Our kids have to live within the rules of society. If they break the law, unless they are insane, they will not be coddled by the justice system.
  11. Hound dog

    Hound dog Nana's are Beautiful

    Yes, yes, you do want to scare the beegeebies outta him. That's the point. You're attempting to nip this in the bud, dear, before it becomes habitual behavior.

    At age 8 (and trust me Travis lagged WAY behind his peers) Travis took 100.00 of my rent money to school. He had no intention of spending a cent of it. He just thought if he walked around with a hundred dollar bill kids would think he was cool for a change and want to be his friend. An observant teacher snatched it from him and had the office contact me. That day I picked him up early. I didn't say a word as I drove him directly to the police station. (pre arranged before I picked him up) But HE knew what he'd done and was crying when I took him inside. Officers did a whole spiel with him, including locking him in an empty cell for about 20 mins. He did not steal again. Scared him to death. But the message was clear, steal=go to jail.

    easy child at age 4 took a candy something or other from a gas station. I made her go back inside, apologize to the cashier and the station manager. That was the end of that.

    difficult child is far too old, maturity or not, to let this slide in any form. He needs to take the things he took back and face the consequences of his actions so he doesn't repeat them.

    It may not be an easy thing for either of you, but it's a valuable lesson he needs to learn now.

  12. DDD

    DDD Well-Known Member

    I've been thinking about your problem. My views are tainted by local customs and I realize that. If the merchandise is not returned it will send a wrong message for sure. Find out what the policy is at the store. As awkward as it is call and ask. Fingers crossed that they will work with you to teach the lesson. You don't know what the options are and therefore you are between a rock and a hard place. Almost all kids take something at one time so I'm sure they have a policy. We raised eight kids. One store saw our kid take a box of candy and put it in a pocket. That store banned the child from ever returning to their store. It varies. Unless you call and ask a Manager you won't know. Chances are slim that your community reacts as ours does. Sending supportive thoughts and hugs. DDD
  13. keista

    keista New Member

    I'm thinking that in this situation, pushing the boundaries of his anxiety might be a GOOD thing.

    Lets assume that he really doesn't know why he takes these things. They look cool, and therefore he has a COMPULSION to take them. Or maybe taking these things simply gives him a little 'rush'. These are two characteristics of compulsive shoplifting - a disorder in it's own right. Well, if you force him to deal with the EXTREME anxiety he will have in returning the items and apologizing, then next time, he may be able to squash that COMPULSION to steal, or the desire for the little rush by remembering the resulting EXTREME anxiety.

    I know it's so tough watching your child in such a state, but this situation definitely warrants it. Think of the anxiety attack he'd have if he ever ends up facing juvie.
  14. hamlet

    hamlet New Member

    I think I understand what you are saying, and that it's going to be next to impossible and not fruitful to drag a screaming, crying, barely able to breathe difficult child into a store for a "lesson" in the consequences of shoplifting. I don't think he will be capable of hearing/comprehending what is going on if he is in a full-out panic attack. I know if my difficult child were in that state I would not be able to get him into the store without physically forcing him, and I don't think that would be very effective in the short or the long term.

    I suppose if it were a very understanding store manager, that person might be willing to meet you in the parking lot and have a chat with difficult child by the car. If the threat is lessened, difficult child might be willing to then go into the store to take the items back or pay for them.

    You may have to accept that the only consequence available to you is one that is applied at home. Don't let him go to the store any more. Return or pay for the items yourself. Ask a friendly police officer, store manager, pastor or counselor to discuss the ramifications of shoplifting with difficult child in no uncertain terms. Apply any other consequence you think might help to get the message across, such as periodic searches of his hiding places or removal of the ability to hide stash.

    Are you concerned at all that he might actually use the cigarette lighters? That thought crossed my mind...
  15. AnnieO

    AnnieO Shooting from the Hip

    Don't tell him that's why you're going.

    Go to the store, items in purse. With difficult child. Once inside - THEN get the manager.

    I wish we'd been able to get this lesson into Onyxx's head...
  16. Malika

    Malika Well-Known Member

    Well, now, in one way I agree with everyone who has posted and underlined the seriousness or potential seriousness of this and has urged that the goods be returned, the shop alerted, etc. It is what I did with J when he was about three and came out of a sweetshop beaming with a bar of chocolate he had "found"... At the same time, shoplifting is such a standard teenage phenomenon. When I was about 13, and at an exclusive private girls' school (girls from wealthy homes with few social or other problems), a small band of us had a shoplifting phase. No-one ever found out and it did not last long. I vaguely remember the thrill of crossing the boundaries in that way. And I have (of course) never stolen from shops since and would not dream of doing so now. So... I feel you can take this with something of a pinch of salt. Of course take it seriously. But it doesn't necessarily mean your son is a future thief.