Lying and stealing
Why do children lie and steal?
When your child is young and doesn’t know any better, lying and stealing is par for the course. He does it for a variety of reasons, but for the most part, he just doesn’t realize the difference between right and wrong. The reason your child might lie or steal may very well depend on how old he is.
Children under the age of 3:
- do not lie on purpose
- don’t understand what they are saying
- are experimenting with language and newly discovered facts about the world
- have yet to develop their own moral code
- don’t understand the difference between what is “mine” and what’s not
Children between the ages of 3 to 7:
- often have trouble understanding the difference between real world and fantasy
- often have imaginary playmates and enjoy fairy tales and make-believe play
- often tell unintentional, made-up lies
- often don’t understand the value of their items
Children from the ages of 6 to 12:
- understand what lying is and that it’s wrong
What causes children to lie and steal?
Children tend to lie and steal for a variety of reasons. He may:
- lie to meet high expectations
- steal because of peer pressure
- lie to avoid disappointing others
- steal because of a low self-esteem
- lie because they are unable to explain why they did something
- steal in order to make friends
- lie because of a lack of discipline
- steal because of a lack of positive feedback
- lie to get attention
Is lying and stealing common?
Lying and stealing every so often is pretty common among school-age children. By the time your child is nine, though, they should understand the difference between right and wrong and learn to respect the possessions of others. Lying and stealing also tends to be more common in boys then in girls.
When does lying and stealing become a concern?
It’s important to realize that occasional lying and stealing are a totally normal part of growing up, but there are certain instances where there could be cause for concern. If any of these sound familiar, it would be a good idea to talk with your child’s doctor:
- your child also shows signs of other behavior problems such as setting things on fire, being mean to animals, or has sleep problems
- your child also doesn’t seem to have many friends or the desire to make friends
- your child, despite knowing it’s wrong, shows no signs of regret
- your child is constantly lying and stealing