Many children take things that don’t belong to them at some point.  This happens because: 

Very young children don’t understand that

  • a toy belongs to another person,
  • things in the shop must be paid for.

Older children know what ownership means and may have reasons why they are stealing.

Reasons for stealing may include some of the following: 

1. Peer pressure

Children want to be “in” and have the coolest clothes and latest mobile phone. 

2. A cry for help

Children who are hurting inside and feel sad and depressed try to fill a “hole” inside themselves. They’ll draw attention to themselves, even if it’s negative attention. 

3. Just for fun

Some children seek excitement and some want to see if they can get away with stealing and / or lying.

What should parents do?

  • Children should be taught from a young age that stealing and lying is WRONG.
  • Children should know that stealing is illegal, it’s a criminal act and that they can be arrested and prosecuted.
  • It is the responsibility of the parents to teach children moral values of a high standard.
  • BUT THEN parents should set the example: Never act dishonestly yourself. 

Have you as a parent, ever thought of the following as dishonest, disobeying behaviour and stealing?

  • Taking some of the stationary that belongs to your work to your house, because the work has lots of pens, rubbers, koki’s.
  • Talk on your cellphone while driving.
  • Telling a white lie (doesn’t matter how small it is).

By doing this you sow the seed for your child to do the same, as children usually do what you do. 

  • Start teaching your young child what trust is.  Trust is belief in others to do and / or not to do certain things. 
  • Your child has to know that if he steals and take something that is not his, someone else will get hurt.
  • Teach your child to respect his own and other’s belongings.

How do children justify stealing and lying?

  • Children who shoplift belief that the shop has many of this specific item, like a game, and that it won’t hurt anyone. Your child should know that shops who deals with large losses just put up their prices to make up for these losses and that it ultimately affects you and your child as customers.
  • They can further justify theft by thinking they deserve to take something from a person who seems to have more than enough. 

What parents shouldn’t do

  • Don’t use fear and guilt to stop your child from lying and stealing (it will not help).
  • Be strict when dealing with stealing and lying.
  • Try to understand why he lied and / or stole.
  • Stay calm.

Your child should see and experience the consequences of lying and stealing

  • Never try to protect you child by pretending he didn’t steal or lie. You will only worsen these incidents in future.
  • Talk to your child and find out what he thought before he stole.
  • Let him take the stolen things back and apologize.
  • He should pay for things he can’t give back.
  • Ask your child how he will feel if somebody steals from him. 

Stealing and lying that don’t stop can indicate deeper psychological problems. 

With therapy children who steal and lie get the opportunity to: 

  • learn to love themselves,
  • acknowledge positive things they do in life,
  • find something positive that excites them.

Dr. Marisa van Niekerk, Educational Psychologist, 0740410081.


A child’s world: Infancy through adolescence. 2004. Papalia, Olds and Feldman.


Sr Ida Bester

From one to three years, your child will make the big transition from infancy to childhood. During this phase it is very important to create a foundation of solid nutrition for healthy later years.

The biggest problem now is that they will be choosy about what and how much they eat. The way they think, act and eat can lead to frustration in parents.

  • They don’t eat what you want them to eat or they play with their food and expect you to play, too.
  • They take ages to swallow one mouthful.
  • They throw a tantrum when they are denied a sweet.
  • They will go on hunger strikes.
  • They want to eat at the most awkward times in the most inconvenient places.

Good news moms! A healthy child has never died of hunger!

Your child is still in a phase of rapid development and the time between one and three years covers a major learning stage in which his brain almost doubles in size. Physiological and nutritional needs are fairly specific and it is essential that small children eat a good variety of healthy foods to satisfy their highly specialised needs. Although toddlers grow at a slower rate than babies, they still need enough energy and nutrients from food to fuel this active play and growth phase. A car cannot operate on water – it needs petrol!

Common reasons why toddlers refuse to eat

  • Teething. Remember at this stage they are cutting their molars and eye teeth. This can be extremely painful and usually goes hand-in-hand with cold symptoms and irritability.
  • Sore throat.

Remember, we all have appetite fluctuations from day to day or even from meal to meal. Never be tempted to force-feed because this can result in a lifelong aversion to certain foods.

Toddler years are the ideal time to help children to form a positive attitude towards food and to develop sound eating habits. It is well documented that early teaching of healthy eating habits reduces the risk of obesity and heart disease as well as metabolic syndrome in later years.

Tips on feeding:

  • Offer small portions, several times a day. Remember the toddler’s stomach is only the size of her little fist. They have small tummies but unique energy needs. Frequency is much more important than quantity.
  • Listen and trust your child’s hunger cues. If they have had enough, respect it; they will eat when they are hungry. But remember not to become an “obedient slave” parent who prepares one dish after another when they don’t want to eat. Take away the food that you have offered when they don’t want it, and when they come back after an hour to say they are hungry, offer the same food.
  • Avoid clean plate practice and overeating. This will either cause obesity or an aversion to certain food as they grow up.
  • Offer at least one food that you know they will eat at every meal.
  • Try to keep to an eating routine. This will certainly lead to a happier mealtime and snack time approach.
  • Let them eat after a favourite activity. They are usually relaxed and less distracted.
  • Eat with your toddler; if they never see you eating they won’t eat. After all, a family that eats together and prays together, stays together.
  • Encourage them to feed themselves. Although this can result in mess, remember it is an important part of a child’s development.

Sr Ida Bester,