What’s With the Stealing?

An adoptive mother worries about her son's impulse issues

Sonia Billadeau April 12, 2014
article image

prisonSomething must be bothering my ten-year-old. He stole an iPhone from my bedside table last Friday, received a week’s grounding with no television, no friends and no electronics, then stole another cell phone yesterday. The counselor says he just doesn’t like the new (and improved) parenting that now prevents him from getting away with so much. We were so busy and distracted with the problems of his older siblings–and he’s so dang cute–that he got away with an awful lot for an awful long time. Well the party’s over now; in fact, it’s been over for about six months.

You do what you know, so we took everything out of his bedroom last night and he can earn his things back by being respectful, responsible, and fun to be with. Also by doing chores fast, snappy, and right the first time. He earned a few privileges today but then sneaked into his brother’s room and took several items. When we talk, he says he can’t help himself. I’m afraid I almost believe him. I didn’t think anything could be scarier than attachment disorder, but perhaps no impulse control beats all.

Tonight I finally made a calculated risk and told him that grownups who can’t control their impulses usually live in prison, and I didn’t want him to live in prison. I gave him enough details about prison life to get the point across. I’m not sure if that was the right thing to do, but I really am concerned that he’s headed toward society controlling him if he can’t control himself. I told him that lots of people in prison today were stealing when they were ten and they never turned away from that behavior, but I knew he was a good kid and could choose to turn away from it. I told him he could promise himself right then and there that he would never steal again and he did. I sure hope my little “scared straight” pep talk works out.

How can he be so much harder than the older two when we’ve had him since he was sixteen months old? I know we’re attached to each other whereas the older two still have a lot of difficulty in that area. I really think it comes back to impulse control. Whatever the older kids’ problems are, they can essentially control their impulses. My ten-year-old son simply cannot or will not. Either way, I’m more worried about him than I am about the other two put together.

I keep reminding myself that the older two stole a Kindle, fireworks, a lighter, emergency cash from our closet, etc. when they were younger, and as far as I can tell, they have totally outgrown that behavior. Their stealing was never as blatant and frequent as their little brother’s thievery, but perhaps he, with his loud personality, just has louder incidences of stealing as well. Going to have to walk by faith on this one.

Photo credit: www.unodc.org/prison051707.jpg

author image

Sonia Billadeau


Want to contact an adoption professional?

Love this? Want more?

Claim Your FREE Adoption Summit Ticket!


The #1 adoption website is hosting the largest, FREE virtual adoption summit. Come listen to 50+ adoption experts share their knowledge and insights.

Members of the adoption community are invited to watch the virtual summit for FREE on September 23-27, 2019, or for a small fee, you can purchase an All-Access Pass to get access to the summit videos for 12 months along with a variety of other benefits.

Get Your Free Ticket


Host: ws1.elevati.net