I will start with some opinions I found on line by professionals.
For younger kids
I just got back from class. Oh my this is going to be a tough one for me. Anyway, I have been thinking about the subject of stealing so much today. This is what I came up. This is only a Brendaism and is by no means professional advice so take it or leave it. To me this is one of the symptoms of RAD that is just that...a symptom. Trying to stop it is like trying to stop sneezing without treating the cold. I think there are things we can do that will help. I believe having them return the item and apologize is necessary. Even if it does not change the behavior it shows them you will always hold them accountable whether they take responsibility or not. I love Christine's idea and will share it here:
"Maybe you could make posters over your doorway that say something like, "I pray that everything brought into this house, that does not belong, is covered in my never-ending love. May that love seep into my children who are stealing because they are frightened."I could probably word it better, and with less sarcasm, if I had more time to think. We've dealt with this some, yet we haven't had them stealing from outside the house - just from one another. So, we include this idea into our mealtime and family prayers on occasion. I've actually prayer walked through my boys' room before. "Mom, what are you DOING?" "Honey, I know that sometimes you are tempted to take things from others because you feel like you've lost control. I am praying my love and God's love all over anything here that doesn't belong to you. I'm putting goodness into the poor choices."We haven't had stealing in weeks now. :)"
I believe this behavior is a symptom of the problem in their heart. They do not feel safe, they do not feel loved and so they try to comfort themselves with these "things". I believe Christine's children must have felt some love and safety coming from her answer. Its really good. Stealing is hard for us because it is morally wrong. As adults they will go to prison if they steal. So it is also frightening. Our son has to pay us $10 every time he takes something that belongs to another family member. He did get tired of paying and not having enough money to buy what he wanted and so cut back some. I do not believe that changed his heart but did slow down the behavior. It is really the feelings of love and safety we are after though. This is one of the symptoms that I saw immediately stop when Taz started healing.