How do you talk to your kids about shoplifting?

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Photo by jfeuchter, used under Creative Commons license.
My eighteen-year-old niece regularly watches my six-year-old daughter, and one recent outing included a trip to a local mall. My niece noticed that my daughter was playing with nail polish, but didn’t think much of it — until they returned home two hours later and the nail polish was in my daughter’s pocket.

My niece told me when I came home that evening, and at that point it wasn’t feasible to turn around and go back to the store to return it. The next day I confronted my daughter about the nail polish, and she explained to me that it “fell” into her pocket. We talked about shoplifting and not taking items that aren’t ours, but I’m not sure if a) she really understood what I was saying and b) if this was the best thing to do.

Parents of little kids: how have you talked to your kids about shoplifting? — Susan

Comments on How do you talk to your kids about shoplifting?

  1. When I was in high school, I worked at a dollar store that was really popular with kids who were looking to unload their allowances. One day a little girl came up to the counter and pulled out a little plastic coin holder full of money (I’m Canadian, so I’m talking a holder full of one and two dollar coins here).

    The female caretaker with her (mom? babysitter? cool aunt?) asked where she’d gotten so much money all of a sudden. The kid said “I stole it” with this disarming little grin, the caretaker mumbled something about “talking about this later” and the kid still got her knicknacks. With the money she had just admitted to stealing. I remember having a look of “what dude no” on my face for the rest of the transaction. This was a good ten years ago, but it still stuck in my head.

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