"A child who has learned to pay attention to parents will go to school prepared to pay attention to teachers. "

Sticky Fingers

Question

Our five year old (foster) son has begun stealing things from other children's book bags (or toys that are left out) at his after-school program. He's a curious little fellow and has a hard time keeping his hands off of things that interest him.

I'm afraid It's taken me too long to catch on to what he's doing (I've seen random little toys in his bag for the last several months, but he's told me they were from the "treasure box" at class ect. and he hasn't had issues with stealing in the past.)

I've been sending him to bed immediately when we get home if I find out he's done this (he's lost two really fun Friday evening movie nights with the family so far as well as a night or two in-between) , and have insisted he return the toys to his friends (have him tell me which friend it belongs to), but yesterday, I sent two toys back to school to be returned to one of his friends, but only one of them made it to her (the second toy got "lost").

We were standing in front of the 10 or so remaining children as well as teachers, when I explained "again" that he'd go straight to bed when we got home. On the way out, I saw another toy in his hand that did not belong to him. He said it was from his teacher's treasure box, but his brother said it belonged to another child at the afterschool program, so we walked back inside and gave it to the teacher to hold for the boy. When I got home and checked his backpack, I found two more toys as well.

I've tried to explain how bad and dangerous the habit of stealing is (he doesn't know it, but his bio-mom is going to prison for armed robbery soon), but I'm not sure he's getting the message. When I ask him why he feels the urge to take things that don't belong to him, he seems to communicate that he likes it and wants it (and thinks it would be too hard for him to tell me about it later... says he'll forget).

He's also been blinking a lot (both eyes) lately, within the past two weeks, and his teacher sent a note that this past week he's been very unfocused and unsettled. (He was suppose to have a visit with his bio-mom last Friday, but she cancelled last minute, and his behaviors have seemed off the whole week - he's gotten into more trouble at home than usual, so maybe it's all connected?)

His (now 6yr old) brother did the same thing at his age, and I purchased a book called "Ricky Sticky Fingers" and then made him return the items till he told me he'd decided not to steal anymore (and he stopped). I'm planning to "re-purchase this book" and do the same with this kiddo, but do you have any other suggestions in the meantime?

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