At some point, little kids will inevitably take something from a store that hasn’t been paid for. Don’t freak out, experts say. Taking a handful of candy from a bin or even a small toy is a no-no, but young children with want in their hearts need to learn the difference between what belongs to them and what belongs to someone else.
If this happens to you and your child, after confirming that your child did in fact take an item from a store, the first thing you should do is ask her why. According to The Parent Survival Guide author Dr. Todd Cartmell, kids who take things from stores — shoplift — do so out of sheer desire and not because they are actually stealing.
With your child, Cartmell says, return the item to the store with your young child along. And, if it happens with an older child who should know better, let him do the explaining himself and repeat why stealing is wrong in language he can understand.