STEALING - RECOMMENDATIONS FOR PARENTS AND TEACHERS

1. Each time a child steals and is not caught, the stealing behavior
is instantly and strongly reinforced. Therefore, a discipline plan
for stealing is much more effective if the chances are very good
that the child will be caught every time the child steals.

2. Arrangements should be made to decrease the student's opportunity
to steal whenever possible and appropriate, such as limiting
unsupervised time in stores.

3. Some form of restitution is important, such as paying for the stolen
item with personal money, replacing the item from personal
belongings, or working off the debt at some task with a money value
assigned per hour of work. Restitution is especially important to
help teach younger children and children with lower intellectual
abilities.

4. Restitutional over-correction can be used as a consequence (i.e.,
a person must return an item of more value than what was stolen).

5. The most effective method to decrease stealing is to combine a
restitution plan with a reinforcement plan for not stealing.
Reinforcers for not stealing could be periodic praise and/or
tangible rewards for younger children. Extra privileges could
be given to older students.

6. To help decrease the need for stealing, the child might
benefit from building or creating some special personal
possession to help satisfy the need for ownership.

7. An opportunity to earn money might decrease the need for stealing.

8. The child will probably need periodic reminders about the
practical benefits of refraining from stealing (i.e., avoiding
punishment, keeping friendships, maintaining reputation, and/or
being trusted). Reasons based upon a general principle of right
versus wrong would probably not be very effective.

9. Training in self-control or impulsive-control techniques may be
very successful when paired with other corrective measures to curb
stealing.