A young Dad recently told me he was having trouble with his 7 year old son. The son had started stealing things. At first he stole things in the checkout lane at the store. Then he took things from school. He escalated more by stealing from a friend’s house and then from his grandparents’ house. Of course, lying went along with the problem of stealing.
At one point “he swore that he was telling us the truth and had not stolen anything else. He had a stolen watch in his pocket when he told us that!”
They had spanked him each time, made him return the things he had stolen and apologize, but nothing seemed to work. He would steal again minutes or hours later.
When the Dad said to me, “How do I stop my son from stealing and lying?” at first I was really stumped. I sent up a quick SOS to heaven and asked God what to tell him.
The Lord seemed to remind me of Ephesians 4:28 that says, “Let him that stole steal no more: but rather let him labour, working with his hands the thing which is good, that he may have to give to him that needeth.”
God gave two principles in that verse to deal with stealing – LABOR (WORK) and GIVING.
I asked the Dad in the presence of the boy, “Does he have a favorite toy?”
The boy lit up and told me about his dinosaur!
I said, “The next time he steals he needs to have to give his dinosaur to the person he stole from as well as giving them back what he stole from them.” The boy did not look happy about my suggestion!
A few weeks later I asked the Dad if the suggestion worked. He replied, “It worked great! We gave him extra chores that he wouldn’t have ordinarily had to do to earn the money to pay the postage to mail his favorite toy to the person we had visited in another state. After he had to give up his top three favorite toys, the stealing stopped!”
“Another thing that helped was having him write 50 sentences each of ‘I will not steal’ and ‘I will not lie.’”
I believe having to give away a favorite toy will also work with lying, but a parent has to make sure that the child has actually lied. Sometimes that is difficult to find out. (Don’t ever correct a child unless you’re sure they have done wrong.) The reason I believe it will work is because of the principle I give in the DVD “The 3 Key Elements of Successful Parenting” that:
“When the displeasure that parents bring into the child’s life for disobedience is stronger than the pleasure that comes from the disobedience, then the disobedience will stop.”
In 1993, Dr. S.M. Davis, then pastor of Park Meadows Baptist Church in Lincoln, Illinois, developed a burden to help solve family problems not only in our church but also across our nation. Through that burden God gave him the messages, Changing the Heart of a Rebel and Seeds of Disintegration Planted By the Boyfriend/Girlfriend Philosophy. Thus began the ministry, Solve Family Problems.
Solve Family Problems is a ministry that strengthens family relationships by helping families prevent or solve problems by watching and applying the principles taught in key, Bible-based messages. Today the ministry has grown to over 100 DVDs and 150 CDs that have helped many families time and time again and has Dr. Davis preaching in churches, conferences, and conventions all over the United States and numerous other countries.