8-year-old Stealing and Lying

So our 8-year-old has been having an issue with lying about anything and everything for the past year. I mean destroying things and blaming it on the four-year-old, throwing homework away and saying he doesn't have any, breaking his teachers things, begging his classmates not to tell and STILL lying about it instead of owning up to it. He is extremely disruptive and destructive in class and at home when he THINKS he can get away with it. He will not tell you the truth even if you CATCH him in the act. And even when he is punished, he seems like he genuinely does not care at all... he says "okay, whatever" and makes comments like that, rolls his eyes, pouts, and is just all around disrespectful about it.
Recently, his lying and disruptive behavior took on a third partner: theft. In the past two months, he has stolen $130 from us, and that's just what we KNOW about, what he has been caught with at school and what we have caught him with. And yet, he lies about where it came from. After investigation and we find out he certainly stole it from us, he still lies until it boils down to "tell the truth or you're getting spanked". And we HAVE had to spank. And the truth finally comes out. But he does NOT seem to care and he just. Keeps. Doing it. 
We have tried EVERYTHING... rewarding him for GOOD behavior, but that turned into him feeling entitled to rewards and treats for simply not getting in trouble or in trouble much that day, not deserving it for behaving particularly well. We have tried grounding. Doesn't phase him. Intervention with his teacher, principal, AND counselors, didn't phase him. And as mentioned, tried even spanking, does not phase him... We love him so much, but we are at our wits end. He has no remorse, no empathy, he just truly does not care unless he is getting what he wants when he wants and we don't know what to do. Anybody struggled with their child in a similar manner? What did you do or did anything at least help a little? We are terrified of him getting older and keeping these habits and growing into a person he (and others) won't like, and continuing to make poor choices and get into trouble in the future. How do we stop this NOW before it gets worse?

Re: 8-year-old Stealing and Lying

  • jillianpardojillianpardo member
    edited April 2016
    My kids are younger than yours so I don't have any experience with an 8 year old.  My four year old has had trouble with lying recently and general misbehavior/disrespect. My daughter didn't care about time out and it was our primary consequence. You have to find something that is meaningful and important to them.  My pediatrician said set rules,  be consistent and when the rules are broken make it painful. He didn't mean physically. He gave examples: take away privileges, take away or throw away toys, etc.

    Eta: it will be different for each kid. Maybe consider making him do community service activities? Hope you can figure out a way to reach him asap. I'm going to think on this more and see if anything else comes to mind. How do you guys typically react and what do you say about the different misbehavior? Stealing is a big deal.  You might want to consult a therapist if you can't get it figured out. 

    O16 April Siggy
  • jillianpardojillianpardo member
    edited April 2016
    6. Identify the trigger

     Find out what prompts the child to steal. The child who steals habitually despite your teaching about honesty usually has a deep-seated problem that needs fixing. Is the child angry? Does he steal to vent the anger? Does the child need money and feel that stealing is the only way he can get what he believes he needs? If so, offer an allowance. Help him get odd jobs. Help the child learn work ethics so that he can earn the toys instead of steal them. Most of the time a child who habitually steals is suffering from a poor self-image and needs to steal to boost his worth or get attention. As in handling all behavioral problems, it’s often necessary to take inventory of your whole family situation. Does your child need more supervision? Perhaps, some redefining of priorities and reconnecting with your child is in order.

     7. Identify the child at risk to steal Watch for these risk factors:

    Poor self-esteem
    strong desire, but weak control
    Generally insensitive to others
    Not connected
    Change in family situation, for example, divorce
    generally bored
    alone a lot

     If you focus on helping your child deal with these risk factors, lying and stealing should subside. It’s important to get to the bottom of stealing. If the problems behind chronic stealing and lying are uncorrected, they tend to snowball. With repeated misdeeds, the child convinces himself that stealing is not really wrong. He desensitizes himself to his own conscience and to your teachings. The child without remorse is at high risk for becoming an adult without controls. With attachment parenting, even if a child is not “caught in the act,” he will punish himself sufficiently with the remorse he will feel. He won’t want to repeat wrong actions.

     8. Praise honesty

     The five-year-old finds somebody’s wallet and brings it to you. Praise him to the limit for his action! “Thank you for bringing Mommy the wallet you found. Now let’s see if we can find out who it belongs to. I’ll bet that person will be very happy you found it, just like you would feel if you lost something special and someone returned it.” Avoid saying, “Thank you for telling the truth.” Some children may not even have thought of keeping the wallet, and you don’t want to plant in their minds the option of being dishonest. Whatever praise you give, convey the message that your child did just what you expected. 

    Just googled 8 year old lying and stealing.  Found this on drsears site. What do you think? 

    O16 April Siggy
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  • You might try to research FASD. What were your drinking habits before you knew you were pregnant? One drink can affect some kids despite what you hear in the media. There's a lot less stigma associated with FASD now because if it's not determined that's the problem you can't treat the symptoms by helping with environment. 

    Read as some life stories at
    the people are so relieved to have a diagnosis. Interventions decrease behaviors. 

  • Have you tried giving the kid a big hug and talking to him rather than hitting him? There's obviously something bigger going on with him. 
    Feb '16 October Siggy Challenge: Favorite Candy

  • @jillianpardo I read that article as well! And many others, and have taken bits and pieces from each that I think will be effective to structure a new approach with him =)

    @knottie1442268460 First let me say your name is crazy to type out when it won't auto fill haha but to answer your question and offer a bit more background, I am not his biological mother, and I do not drink regardless, but that is an interesting bit of information.

    @Miss Lilac Absolutely, tried that the first, and second time he was caught stealing. It wasn't until the third time that his father spanked him. There is no doubt that this stems from bigger issues, so that is what we are addressing now. Spanking is always a last resort.

    Update: After our last discussion with him, we have established a new approach to take. He had a wonderful day at school today, his teacher actually sent me a text during their lunch hour and said "he's like a whole different kid", so we will be working in a more reward-based manner with him, we will be offering a behavior and academic performance allowance as well as offering opportunities to earn money via chores, etc. So he can have more of a concept of earning and ownership instead of feeling the need to steal, or just feeling entitled to whatever he wants without putting forth effort to earn  what he wants.

    We know a lot of his actions have to do with the drastically different home dynamics in our home and at his bio-mom's home, and him living with us full time is fairly new still, only 6 months in. Before we alternated every other week. We're trying to take all of that and how the changes affect him emotionally into consideration.

    jillianpardowintersongMiss Lilacrlbrooks84
  • @AllyTheKid that is so reassuring and good news for sure :) 

    O16 April Siggy
  • I think you need to create some rules and boundaries and if he breaks them, you just tell him in a very calm manner what he did wrong and ignore his disrespectful reactions. Spanking a child will not help, it will only make things worse and he can become cruel. Maybe he tries to get your attention by doing all sorts of things. You mentioned that you have 4-years-old child, it is entirely possible that he feels jealousy and this is his way out of this.
  • I am a single mom raising an 8yr old and I have the same problem. He lies, cheats, keeps secrets fr me, takes things repeatedly fr me, n other people: (phone, jewelry, tablet, fake coins, nails, needles, lighters, etc) breaks:(flashlights, tablets, toys, glue, shoe boxes, his bed, rips paint off the wall, etc) puts in his mouth: (rubber, plastic, paint, pencil lead, pen, pen pieces, string, paper, Crayons, eats raw sugar, all the candy, chocolate, hot coco packages, etc)! I have talk to him repeatedly with no effect. I've taken things away fr him repeatedly with no effect. I've punished him repeatedly with no effect. Spanking had no effect. I always have to search his pockets, under the bed, behind or under any n everything in the house where he is or might hide stuff. My boyfriend, mother, doctor, etc has talked to him and it has no effect. I've showed him extra love, I've ignored him, confined him to his room. Nothing has ANY EFFECT!!! The doctors say he has ADHD n AUTISM on a spectrum. He takes medicine and the medicine has no effect. He knows right fr wrong. He's very rude, disrespectful, destructive, etc. He's rude 2 every1. He doesn't want to do no school work @ home or school. He talks back, he throws things @ me, he hit me cause he didn't like what I said to him. I desperately want this behavior to STOP. I love my son to the moon n back, I am @ my wits 🔚. I'm so tired, of it all. It's making me sick to my stomach. It has become unbearable to live with. When I have to constantly hide things fr my own child just for him to tell me I know where you hide things. SMDH who wants to LIVE LIKE THAT. It bleeds my hurt n makes me cry, sad n very angry. To know that I don't do nor has he ever seen me carry on with things like that!! (ISN'T CHILDREN SUPPOSED TO DO WHAT THEY SEE THEIR PARENTS OR PARENT DO)!! I can't sleep properly cause I'm always have to be on high alert to make sure he's NOT DOING ANYTHING HE'S NOT SUPPOSED 2!!! People in the neighborhood keeps NOT minding their own business cause of the things he does. They see how I react, NOT seeing Y I react that way. What am I supposed to do if when my child goes out with other people he takes things fr the store and want to walk out with it. The person he's with can get in trouble for his behavior. I can get in trouble for his behavior and it's not right. Every1 who knows us says your mom treats you good and teaches you right fr wrong why are you acting like this. He says he doesn't like me or my mouth. I asked him why he doesn't like me: his reply is I won't let him do his secret experience. I can't even talk about this anymore my chest is closing up n my eyes r starting to burn me fr tryin to hold the tears back. Please I desperately need HELP! Before this behavior escalates into bigger things with age.
  • Pray at night with him every night start with an our father, move on to say thank you for his name and then Mama, our family and friends. Thank you for whatever good thing happened in the day (even if its just the sunshine) and say let us get some rest so we can have a better day tomorrow and end with- keep us safe, happy, healthy and in your grace. Praying will help you both remember that you are loved and are good people. Life is hard but you will have good days and bad. Tell him he's a good boy not a bad boy when he breaks things and dont replace it. Tell him we need to take care of our things and now no candy or something he likes. Tell him you know he can get through this rough patch and things will get better. If he takes the candy or whatever  it is hide it. Keep everything of value hidden etc. No child is perfect. Just hang in there. 
  • jamied41jamied41 member
    edited June 2022
    Yes, I have an 8-year-old child, and I have gone through this phase. I similarly struggled with my child. But, the good thing is I found some effective ways to deal with this. I have gone through most parenting books and articles and tried out what I have learned. I've talked to him a lot, but it's had no effect. Finally, we found that He has ADHD and AUTISM on a continuum, with the help of an ADHD coaching specialist  who was one of our relatives. children with ADHD are more likely to have behavior problems, including stealing and lying, than kids without ADHD. It's important to remember that your child isn't doing these things to annoy you or because he doesn't love you. It's very common in the early stages of ADD/ADHD because the child with ADD/ADHD cannot tolerate the body's stress responses because they can't control them. So they steal to self-medicate to try to eliminate that internal physiological stress. In some cases, the child may learn to lie to cover up stealing, which is common in children with ADD/ADHD due to impulsivity and difficulty with executive functioning. But now we can see the positive changes in our child when compared to previous, and I hope he will become a good child in the family, school, and society.
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