First, it is particularly embarrassing when the teacher or the owner of the kiosk calls around the corner and says, steals your child. Then come the questions: Why does it do that? Is it fall off the rails? And what shall we do now because? Education consultant Andreas Engel knows what to do.

Stealing is an issue in kindergarten

Child stealing candy

Photo: © Diego Cervo

When Alina goes shopping with her mother, she suddenly sees a great thing. It is exactly the same thing that Jule had this morning in kindergarten there. the thing is rapidly disappearing in Alina's pocket. Almost by itself! Only at home Alina is clear that they stole. And they can not even appreciate the thing itself ... In the picture book "The thing or the darn theft" by Mirjam Pressler (12.95 euros, Ellermann Verlag, from 4 years) is the subject of child theft, in which many parents no understanding muster empathetic treatment from the perspective of the child. The rating shows that stealing is quite in kindergarten age an issue. And a difficult one.

To understand that and why one should take anything away from others, children have to learn that there is such a thing as property in general. The term is not defined by nature and has been in every culture a slightly different meaning. "In this country, the property has a very high priority, and that children learn by example behavior of the parents and by the frequent repetition of the rule, if you may take away anything to anyone, '" says psychologist Andreas Engel from Hof ​​in North Bavaria, who in a education counseling Center works and where she is confronted from time to time with the problem of child theft, "This does not work overnight."

The formation of conscience is a flowing development

At the age of one or two years the little understood in a first step of development that they can not take away another child his toys, because otherwise it will sad. This goes to them and even the same. "You understand but only for the moment, where you explained it to them, and not thinking of property, but in a purely emotional categories," said Andreas Engel, "It was not until the fourth or fifth year of life, children can with this abstract norm do something and they internalize, so you no longer have to re-explain in each respective situation to them. "at the latest Primary Age should make clear their offspring, there is private ownership parents. And that you can not take it away, no matter what emotional responses that could trigger.

But even if the offspring is the extent savvy, it may happen that he steals. However, he therefore is not threatening, like his parents feared sure to go off the rails. "On the contrary, if a child fibs for the first time, steals or moved out of courtesy, it shows the fact that it has mastered an important intellectual development step. A child with an IQ deficit will likely not succeed something "educational advisers Angel reassured the worried parents," lead someone up the garden path, denying itself to demand the truth and keep the secret is a highly differentiated performance, the child from the late kindergarten and tried until the tenth year of life perfected. "in most cases, children happen thefts in the corresponding stage of development, which also goes by again.

What to do if my child is stealing?

But development phase or not - can not tolerate parents the child's misbehavior course not. overlook about it is just as appropriate as in rants break out and threaten draconian penalties. The expert advises that the child first calmly and clearly to point out that stealing is wrong, and then to analyze the situation: "The king questions are: WHAT has taken the child? WEM has taken something? And what has made it so? From this one can often see the motivation: who envied the child or wants whom it hurt, of whom it expects more than it gets "Maybe it steals things that are among peers as a status symbol or to friends to prove his courage.. Behind this is in both cases the desire to belong. Maybe it steals so striking that it can be sure of getting caught. Then it may wish to underline his rebellion attitude towards the parents or begging with his behavior to her attention.

The motivation in young children is usually different from that of young people: "When a new sibling is born, the first-born often feels reset and steals as candy to something good to do yourself. So it shows, I also have love and attention 'and compensated for the lack, "said Andreas Engel. Even if money is stolen from the stock market, it rarely go to material needs: "Money and goods are in our society for the feeling of being taken care of and get attention. If you take the money, looking for love. "

If parents after they have analyzed the situation, to understand why their child stealing, they can join him in trying the issue that lies behind the fact, to solve. The claw itself is a minor matter. Nevertheless, there should be consequences, "Show your child a real opportunity to make good his act again and accompany it at that," says psychologist angel. "It should return the stolen item or replace and apologize." The confrontation with the robbed man often works wonders when it comes to the formation of consciences. Also, it goes without saying that you should not tempt the apparently still unpaved child by leaving money lying around openly or it alone sends to the supermarket.

When is a child guidance useful?

As long as the children theft remains the exception, the problem can be resolved within the family. However steals the young to go to school and perhaps more often, help is the best solution from outside. Because then plugged probably a more serious conflict behind it. "In consulting, we help parents to dig deeper into the subject and to recognize relationships," says Andreas Engel. "Especially among young people, it is important to come to talk with them and to signal sincere interest in their well-being before they shut completely. At this age, the dog can be a sign of an intelligence deficit or developmental delay. Perhaps the young people lack the understanding that his behavior is wrong. "

But should be available at the teenager. Criminal law takes 14 years. By now, the theft has consequences. Previously, only in individual cases, even if it is always called "Parents are responsible for their children." "You are only liable if they have failed to fulfill their duty of supervision," says education advisor angel, "But the law does not require that parents watch their children around the clock. Who sends his eight-year-old child alone in the supermarket to get bread, is justifiable. If it steals something there, the parents are not liable. The victim may keep purely legal course to the child, but that will remain the absolute exception, since he first get yourself an unincorporated title and then had to wait until the child acquires usable assets in the course of his life. But if parents send their child alone in the supermarket, even though they were informed that it has been there several times stolen, then that can be interpreted as a violation of the duty of supervision and to cause that the parents must be liable for their child. "

What to do if my child is stolen from others?

Now children can be in case of theft not only the perpetrator but also to the victim. Be it in school or sports club, everywhere there are peers who drive their power games and want to prove their strength by taking away a comrade something. And then? Should I as Mama same call furiously with the parents of the offender and threaten to an ad? "No," Andreas Engel dismisses, "first stay calm and not decide on the child's head away or act. First, it is useful to discuss with the child: it Perceives the loss of the stolen thing ever to be so bad? If possible, it should settle the matter themselves and demand that the perpetrators, 'I want you back give me my stuff' Only if that does not help, parents can intervene, but still adequate for the background. ".

Last admonished the expert us parents to expect the impossible from our children. As hard as that may be to accept - they do not grow here in Europe in an environment of where it happens always fair and regulated. "In our society as a whole, it is not too far with the conscience ago. Bankers enrich themselves shamelessly, violence is rampant. If not even the adults behave exemplary, how shall then children understand what is right and wrong? "Asks Andreas Engel, pointing to the fact that we give our children on the way the values, under the influence of outside must assert only.