Thursday, September 22, 2011

Sticky Fingers - Help!

I have a thief in the making in my classroom this year. I've had students before who like to "collect" things that don't belong to them but this little one is on a whole different level! She is CONSTANTLY stealing anything that's not bolted down. Even after being caught multiple times, referrals, loss of recess, and phone calls home, she continues to steal from me and her classmates. When she's caught she shows no sign of remorse and tries to lie her way out. Anyone have any pointers for dealing with this behavior? I can't get through to her. I know this behavior could be stemming from a lack of "things" at home, and that can't be changed much, but something must be done! All the students have figured out that she is the one stealing their things and lying to them and I don't think they will be able to forgive her much longer... AHHHH!


  1. I have no idea, but it just came to me to clear out her entire desk before she comes in one morning (maybe tomorrow) and ask her how it feels to have all of her stuff gone. Then, maybe she'll have some thought before she just continues stealing.

    I have threatened to call the police once when I had a child who was so compulsive about stealing. She was terrified of the police, which made me think her mama had taught her to shoplift...(sad, huh?). That did the trick...she never stole another thing.

    Obviously, I have no idea how to handle this either...I always tell my students that if they need something they should tell me and I'll try to help them get it. I often let them empty the trash cans, etc. (even though everyone in class has a job) to earn an ice cream or school store money or pencils or whatever. I'm interested in knowing how you solve this problem, so please keep us posted!


    Stapler’s Strategies for Sizzlin' Second Graders!

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  2. I think prevention is the way to go here. If she's stealing from other students' cubbies then block off the cubby area so she can only access it at certain times of the day. If she's stealing from desks then maybe limit her access to them - move her desk away from the others and make sure she isn't over by unattended desks. Talk to her parents about not allowing her to have a backpack and having her empty her pockets before she leaves each day so that she doesn't have the opportunity to hide things.

    You could ask for a police officer to come and talk to the class in general about stealing - but I'd be iffy about this if you think other students might point her out as a thief in front of the officer. She's going to have to be in your class and be with these students for a long time - you don't want them to ostracize her now because then she'll never be accepted.

    This may seem counter intuitive, but what about rewarding her for NOT stealing? For every day that she doesn't steal give her a sticker on a chart - after so many stickers she gets a reward - either a small treat or extra recess/computer time etc. I know it seems wrong to reward her for doing the right thing, but she seems to need some external motivation to stop her from giving into the impulse to steal. Is she impulsive about other things? Talking, being out of her seat, etc? If so maybe this is simply a sign of a larger problem.
    Sorry I'm not more help, I'm really interested to see how this turns out, please keep us informed!

    Jennifer @ Herding Kats In Kindergarten