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What to Do When Your Grown Child Steals From You

What to Do When Your Grown Child Steals From You

A grown child is the same as an adult. They know very well almost everything about morals and ethics. They do understand that stealing is bad and it comes with repercussions later in life if not immediate. Parents do their best to raise a child but when they are teenagers or young adults it’s up to an individual child to decide the path to take. What to do when your grown child steals from you is something you have to ponder before acting because of the weight of its outcome.

Remember you are no longer dealing with a child, and the action(s) taken will likely stick in the back of their heads. They will not forget easily, unlike toddlers. 

What to Do When Your Grown Child Steals From You

To help you to avoid anything negative and detrimental from happening, we shall discuss how such as situation can be handled effectively.

Analyze the Situation 

Among the things that grown children steal the most, money tops the list. Analyze the situation and get to know what exactly was stolen, how, and who might have stolen it. It’s crucial not to depend on circumstantial evidence as proof that your child is the one who stole. It might have been another person.

To accuse someone of theft and win, hard evidence is required. Using circumstantial evidence will either result in your child confessing or lying. In such a situation, the latter is most likely. Be certain the thing or item(s) was stolen and that it’s not misplaced.


It’s okay to be furious when your child steals from you but it’s utmost to be calm. Stealing is normal in children and should not make a parent overreact. The best thing you can do in such a situation is to be calm as this act alone does not mean that your child is already a thief or will end up being one in the future.

Apart from being calm, it’s crucial to not take it personally. Children steal due to different reasons and most of them are not worth the act. They only need to be requested and they are offered.

What to Do When Your Grown Child Steals From You

Talk to Your Grown Child 

This is the best action you can take and the answer to what to do when your grown child steals from you. Disciplining your child will break or worsen your relationship. The same way adults are taken to court, be the judge in this situation without emotions taking over. Talking to your child, without accusing or making them feel confronted is the appropriate thing to do.

Positive reinforcement does magic when dealing with young children. After teenage hood, what can be done is talk. Find a place to sit together with your child even if it’s in a public place like a park or a private place like your backyard and let them feel free with you.

While doing it, check your tone and body language as they speak more than words even if they are carefully chosen. Use a soft tone and let your body language reflect your tone and words.

Words that Should Not Be Used 

“The person who stole my money will burn in hell”

“I wish nothing but misery to the person who stole my necklace”

“That thief is cursed and nothing they will do will even be a success”

Explain to them the effects of stealing, both short and long-term. Use general statements so that they won’t feel like they are being accused of something. In the process, mention that something was stolen from you and it was important. Talk with positivity and let them know you are not happy with it and that you wish the person who took it to return it.

“That money was my savings for the week and had planned to use them to buy a gift for our grandparents this coming holiday. I wish I could get them back. I wish that person could understand how wrong stealing is”

Slowly your child will come to sense and even confess that he or she is the one who stole. It’s the way your words, tone, and body language blend that make a grown child open up. Even if they won’t open up and admit they are the ones who stole, don’t be upset. Give them time, maybe they want to think about it first or they have decided to change after that conversation.

Related: What to Do When Your Teenager is Out of Control

What If You Catch Your Grown Child Stealing From You 

What to do when you catch your grown child stealing from you is not much different from what we have discussed above. The difference is that there will be no need to use circumstantial evidence since you catch the child in the act.

Talk to them, but this time, let them know they are the ones being addressed, not an unknown party. Don’t forget to choose your words wisely, check your tone and body language. Make sure they can easily understand the words you are using and do not label or imply that they are thieves. If a child – no matter the age – is labeled a thief, their self-confidence is damaged and they grow believing that.

What to Do When Your Grown Child Steals From You

How to Correct the Wrong

The way the wrong is corrected depends on what is stolen by your grown child. The action should be equivalent to the stolen item. If money was stolen and the child confesses, request him or her to return if they have a source of income. If they don’t have, give them work that you would otherwise pay someone to do it. Let them do it, pay them and then tell them to pay you (give the money back).

Get to fathom the reason why your child stole. There are many reasons why a grown child would steal with some of them being:

  • Peer pressure
  • To seek attention
  • To buy drugs and alcohol
  • If they cannot legally get the item for example cigarettes
  • Desire for independence
  • Their needs (basic needs) are not being met

To correct the wrong, the motive has to be understood. You can even ask them so that you can easily get the answer but be careful as some may lie. After understanding the reason behind it, see how best you can eliminate it. If the motive is the desire for independence, you can find paid work for them, or even request your friends to give your grown child some paid duties. This way, they will learn money is got through the honest way – working.

Final Thoughts 

It doesn’t matter if a child denies or confesses stealing from you. The important thing is for you, as a parent to talk to them and show the negative side of stealing. Try to understand why they did it and how to eliminate their action’s motive. Above all, be a child’s role model and teach them about honesty and requesting things that do not belong to them.


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