Originally Posted by chloema
What exactly are you saying that your child wouldn't understand? The concept of not taking things that don't belong to you, or the idea that $400 is quite a bit of money. I can see a child having no idea of the value of $400, but the dollar amount is irrelevant imo. If these kids are totally ignorant about how it is wrong to take things that don't belong to them, I am surprised that this has not been an issue previously. When they are at a friend's house, do they take toys that don't belong to them? When they are at the store do they steal things there? If not, why? I'm guessing it is because they know that those things do not belong to them, because they were taught (on some level) that stealing is wrong. Or if that isn't the case, then why? I really don't understand how people can say that they have never talked to their children about stealing. It just seems like a very basic idea that most 4 year olds would understand. I am around children all the time (we're homeschoolers) and they all seem to have an idea of ownership and the idea that it is wrong to take someone that belongs to someone else. I'm not saying that they wouldn't steal money if it was left out, but I do believe that they "know better". Heck, even I knew and understood that at that age. I have to admit that I did steal things here and there as a child, but I "knew" that I was taking something that did not belong to me and I knew that it was wrong. For whatever reason, I chose to do it anyway. Not that I'm proud of it...I'm just being honest.
Well, we went through something similar with my, then newly, 7 year old. And reading further I found out this is not that uncommon at this age.
My son has only just started learning the value of money so I doubt your nephew had any concept of how much that was,what it would buy or how long it would take to earn.
Anyway my son was pilfering/stockpiling. Most specifically buttons from his classroom. Putting them in his pocket and then not giving them all back when caught by his teacher nor showing any real remorse about not owning up.
There was a lot of elements to why he did it. Thrill, greed, and reading a lot of stories about thieves/sneaks (Bilbo Baggins, Fantastic Mr. Fox, William stories etc)
There is a lot to this and I specifically DID make a big deal about it. I had him write out a story (he doesn't like lots of printing) about how he would feel if a friend stole from him, made him go to the counsellor, made him write an apology to the teacher, gave the teacher all OUR buttons for the classroom and talked about how to get buttons legitimately.
I agree about the confusion of community property with children (heck even adults).
While my son was going through this phase, the only time he got upset, and came to me without me going to him, was when he had taken a bracelet he had found lying in the classroom but then figured specifically belonged to someone.
So personal property wasn't something he wanted to steal but community property looked like it was abundant (e.g. the treasure box for having read through the week, the buttons, ribbons etc).
It was harder to see that it would hurt someone. Heck much of the problems we have with the environment today are the result of exactly this kind of greed over what seems to be more than enough for everybody - but isn't really. Seven year olds don't divide very well but I'm not so sure we do either.