Psychology 101: Why Do Young People Commit Theft?

Parents and older members of the community work hand in hand to become the best role models for the children. They – the kids – are excellent imitators, after all. In case they are often around good Samaritans, they may end up volunteering a lot. Consequently, if these youngsters often hear someone cuss from birth, they think it’s acceptable and may start cursing like a sailor regardless of who they are speaking with now.


One of the activities that adults can never teach kids – whether consciously or unconsciously – is stealing. The teachers at school and the parents at home tell them that it’s better to ask for something than to take it without permission. Still, many young people get sent to the juvenile detention facilities because of theft.

Psychology experts say that there are a few reasons why they think of stealing instead of enjoying their childhood. Some of them include:

  1. Peer Pressure

One of the most typical causes of thieving is the bad influence. For instance, a nerdy child wants to become a part of a little gang of famous students from the school. The latter, however, decided that it would be fun to coax him or her to steal Starbursts at a 7-Eleven store before he or she could join the group. Out of desperation to fit in, the poor kid might do it against their better judgment.

  1. Depression

Many young and old children tend to stop following rules when depressed. If you tell them to turn right, they go left. In their head, they are forever doomed; they do not have a future ahead of them. That’s why getting caught or, worse, having a police record for stealing means nothing to them.



  1. Neglect

Some youngsters opt to become a thief as well in hopes of getting the attention of their busy parents. They are likely aware that it is highly unacceptable in the eyes of the law, yet they do so to have their mom or dad stop what they are doing and focus on them. Even if it entails that the store where they stole something might charge them with theft, that is.

  1. Loss

Losing something or someone makes some children feel like there is a hole they need to fill in their system. While others do it by finding new friends or picking up a hobby, some falsely believe that they will be okay after managing to steal somewhere. That often results in plenty of repercussions, of course.

  1. Kleptomania

Unfortunately, there are a few young people who were born with a type of mania that allows them to commit theft. Although they are aware of how lousy stealing is, they cannot resist the magnetism of getting anything from candy to a pair of shoes without paying for them. Their mental disorder says that it’s fun; hence, it may be difficult to cull this habit.


  1. Poverty

Coming from a low-income family and not being able to buy new stuff is not enough validation for committing theft, that is true. Sadly, some children think that that is the only way for them to have what kids who hail from well-off parents have. They stop thinking about what’s right or wrong at that moment; they merely go for it and hope for the best.

In Conclusion

Becoming a thief is not innate in every human being. Circumstances and, in a few cases, mental health illnesses push people, especially the young ones, to go against the law. Instead of condemning for their actions, though, it is best to discipline them and teach them how to behave well.


Oppositional Defiant Child – Try Parent Counseling


As parents, it is our job to consider our child’s needs and their unique conditions, among other things. For children with Oppositional Defiant Disorder or ODD, it can be challenging to interact with other children and authority figures. They defy the rules, argue with adults, and are prone to emotional outbursts which can upset people around your child. 


But by doing your research on ODD and some parent counseling sessions, it can be easy to strategize ways to promote cooperation within your home. Your child can also practice it on the outside.


Step 1: Create A Detailed Daily Schedule For The Week And Stick To It. 


Children with behavioral problems tend to act up as a response to stress. Minimize this stress by imposing structure and routine. Be as detailed as you can, including the time and duration for each activity. If there will be any changes to the schedule, be sure that you inform the child in advance. 


Step 2: Have A Designated Area In Your Home For Your Child To Vent Out His Frustrations. 


Equip the area with throw pillows, stress balls, and other durable toys. That way, instead of taking out their anger on you or his siblings, the child can develop a habit of expressing himself healthily and positively. It is also a right way for them to build awareness of their triggers. You can even talk to your child’s teacher and explain what you have at home. The teacher can also provide the same need.


Step 3: Make A Checklist Of Your Child’s Problematic Behavior And Tackle Each One Systematically.


You can start with the most challenging behavior and work your way down the list. Trying to address all the issues at once can be overwhelming for you and your child. As you deal with each behavior, explain to the child why he needs to stop acting such and follow specific rules. (You can learn how to do this through parent counseling.)  


Step 4: Develop A Reward System To Give Your Child Incentives. 


Give the child rewards for good behavior. You can allow your child to play his computer or tablet game for a set time or schedule. He can also pick a treat or choose what snack to eat. It doesn’t have to be money or toys. Simple things will do. 


Step 5: Another Way To Positively Reward Your Child Is To Praise Him. 


One of the reasons children act up is due to low self-esteem, so build him up with encouragement and positive affirmations. Adults tend to criticize undesirable behaviors, thinking that it will make the child stop. Instead, it causes them additional stress. Never criticize.


Step 6: When Giving Your Child Instructions, Make It Easy To Follow, But It Must Be Specific. 


It helps to break down more prominent instructions into smaller goals to avoid overwhelming and discouraging the child. For easy reference, write these instructions down for your child. 


Step 7: Teach The Child Alternative Ways Of Self-Expression.


Another reason children hurt others is that they are unable to articulate what they want. If they pull another child’s hair, it may be just because they want to get the child’s attention. So instead, teach your child to express himself freely and create an environment wherein everyone can voice out healthily. 


Step 8: Integrate Activities At Home That Can Help The Child Work Off Excess Energy. 


Give them time to run around and play games with the other children – in the classroom or on play dates. Let your ODD child take an active role in the games. Such activities can also foster teamwork and teach them essential skills such as leadership, critical thinking, and sportsmanship.


ODD doesn’t have to hinder your child from growing into a well-rounded adult. You, as the parents, will have a significant impact on how your ODD child is going to grow up. With these tips, you are on the right parenting path.