When You Discover Your Child Is Shoplifting

Akshita went to the shopping mall, taking along her son, Armaan, since there was none whom she could leave him with. Six-year-old Armaan loved to accompany his mother wherever she went and would often tag along. Being an only child, he was pampered by his parents. But of late, he was finding them getting stricter, when it came to his behaviours on moral values, though he could never really fathom what they were trying to get at. Nevertheless, after much persuasion, convincing and scolding, dad-talking-to-son-483654292-300x225he would reluctantly agree to all that they would insist.

Though his parents usually provided Armaan with everything he wanted, and probably much more, he still had his weaknesses. He couldn’t really resist taking the things he liked, even if they belonged to others. Occasionally, if anything caught his fancy, he would simply pick it up and bring it home, without bothering to ask for the owner. This could be a pencil, an eraser or even a small toy. Sometimes Akshita would have no peace, watching over him, while standing at the billing counter of a store, lest he slips in a chocolate bar or a candy, into his pocket.

Likewise, he would also forget or lose his things anywhere and even give up without a fight, if anyone wilfully took them. To him, the “concept of ownership”, was yet unclear and not quite decipherable. Therefore, he would find it difficult to differentiate between the things that belonged to him viz-a-viz that of the others. “Sharing is caring” is what he was taught but “sharing” meant only temporary use and did not fetch him the right to ‘take away’ what belonged to others or even ‘give away’ his own, was something that he was still unable to interpret.

When Akshita looked at his peers, many of them, were quite matured in their attitude for this age, with a few just like Armaan. In a bid to raise him with healthy ideologies, she would often try various methods to correct him. She would teach him to take care of his own things; forbid him from taking things that was not his; reproach and insist he return anything that he’s brought home, without asking; explain what “stealing” meant and it’s bad consequences; tell him stories of how thieves are eventually caught by the police who could really get nasty; create belief in god and explain him as to how god would be angry at those children who stole other’s things etc.

Though Armaan seemed to be slowly changing and had by and large improved, he was still unpredictable. There would yet be those brief instances, when he would be overcome by temptation and act upon impulse. A reluctant Akshita, knowing that he was yet going to need some time, to totally grow out of it, would give up but not without reprimanding him. At the same time, she would always remain on her guard and watch over his activities, whenever she took him out.

Today, they had entered a huge supermarket to buy out the weekly groceries. Armaan seemed to be behaving well in the store and Akshita felt glad about it. After they were through with their shopping, famished, they dropped into an adjoining restaurant and occupied a table.

Akshita looked around. It was a nice place. One side of the restaurant which had the billing counter, also displayed a huge variety of delicious pastries and chocolates. She placed an order for two sandwiches because Armaan loved them and they waited for the meal to arrive. During this interval, Armaan suddenly began to act restless. He refused to sit up and started moving about the place. Especially he kept frolicking around the chocolate-pastry section. Akshita could not understand what had suddenly gotten over him, when everything had been going well, so far. She guessed that the goodies were probably getting him, a bit far too excited.

“Armaan, come here and sit beta”, she would keep on calling.

The words just didn’t seem to get through to him, though. At times, she would warn him that if he continued behaving like this, she would cancel the order and immediately leave, upon which he would quickly bounce back to his seat. But then he would sit there for only two minutes and eventually get back to his prancing activity. Exhausted and tired, somehow, they managed to finish the meal, pay the bill and get back home.

During the night, she saw him munching something.

“What’s that you’re eating?”, she questioned.

“Nothing”, he replied.

“Whatever it is, SPIT OUT.”, dad commanded.

Armaan spit out a whitish lump.

“What’s that? Was it a tissue that you were chewing?”, Akshita asked disdainfully.

“No, it’s a chocolate.”, he replied, hesitantly.

“Show me.”, Akshita and Sudhir both demanded.

He pulled out a packet of Mentos.

“Where did you get these from?”, Akshita demanded, for that was never a part of her today’s purchase.

“It’s from the restaurant. I took it from there.”, he replied in a straightforward manner, with a childlike, innocent expression.

Akshita and Sudhir both got furious. A frustrated Akshita simply got up and spanked him while Sudhir began yelling at him. Akshita joined in the screaming too. At the end of the session, both declared that they would not talk to this bad boy, at which, a tearful Armaan, began crying and pleading a “Sorry”.

“Do you know what you’ve done?”, Akshita could not bring herself to relent.

“No.”, he nodded his head faultlessly.

“I only took a chocolate. ”, he replied in a small voice.

Sudhir glared at him.

“Because there were so many. But I took only one.”, he explained. The parents realised, he was trying to appease them with the fact that there were still several left behind, for the store-keeper’s use.

“Did we pay money for that?”, she jibed him further.

“No”, he replied innocently

“Did you ask that uncle whether you can take it? Or did you ask Mamma?”

“No” he replied, now, with an expression of having made a mistake.

They understood that rebuke was pointless because Armaan had not yet discerned anything.

“We’ll go to the restaurant tomorrow and pay up.” Sudhir suggested to Akshita.

Akshita agreed while Armaan intently listened to them, completely lost and trying to get a hang of what wrong he had done.

“Yes, and we’ll also apologise”, she added.

She then turned to Armaan and said, “Now, it’s YOU who will apologise. Not us. Because, it’s you who did it. You will say sorry to that uncle. Understood?”

“Ok. I will say sorry to uncle”, he agreed, not quite comprehending.

“Yes”, Sudhir agreed. Practice was better than preaching. Things sometimes needed to be demonstrated to make them see the light. Besides, Armaan needed to face it to sense the guilt, that was yet unknown to him. Today, for him, this embarrassment would be a small incident, as against the entire family losing face tomorrow, if this habit continues.

After sometime, a tired Armaan went off to sleep while a disturbed Akshita wondered, whether she should get him counselled, in case this behaviour persists.

Next day evening, as they all went to the restaurant, the waiter greeted them with a wide smile of recognition. Sudhir and Akshita headed towards the counter and explained that they wanted to pay for the chocolate that their child had unknowingly taken away.

The restaurant owner, cashier and the waiter, were all extremely abashed and firmly declined the money, for Armaan was just a child. But Sudhir and Akshita would have none of it because they did not want to encourage this practice with Armaan. He had to understand that what he had done was not correct. Next, Sudhir commanded Armaan to apologise. Armaan turned red- faced. His expression reflected shame and insult, as he mouthed an inaudible “sorry”.

But the restaurant guys would not agree. After much persuasion, the owner told them the price of the Mentos and Sudhir placed the money at the counter which the owner was still mortified to accept. They all felt sorry for the little boy. With great hesitation, they took the money and in return, dotingly handed over two lollipop candies to Armaan as a gift, which he aacepted, but with his head bowed down deep, so much so that, now he found it difficult to say a “thank you”.

At home, they found Armaan thinking about it, for quite a long time and seeking more clarifications on all that had happened today, after which he finally declared, “Mamma, I will not do it again.”

At least for now, the parents felt glad about the example that they had tried to set, to make him see perspective, by getting him to make a restitution. Maybe, he will need some more repetitions of this, but they were determined to do it and if required, arrange for him to be counselled.

At bedtime, as they all lied down to sleep, Armaan insisted that Akshita hug him and she immediately found herself lying down beside, caressing him. Once he drifted off to sleep, Akshita couldn’t help lovingly stroke and kiss her little boy, besides feeling bad for all that he had to go through today. But nipping this off in the bud was necessary, which could happen only if certain lessons were provided at the right time and in a manner that he understood.

She loved this little boy more than anything else in the world but, a bittersweet journey that it is, parenting does render its own share of ups and downs, she realised. Sometimes parents get no choice other than to act tough, but all in their child’s long-term interest and welfare. She was glad about the way they had handled the situation today.

Author’s Note:

Small children often take the away things they want, without seeking permission. They don’t realise that it’s wrong for them to do so or even understand the fact that there’s a cost involved.

Having come across a parent who decided to handle it through an illustration, I felt I should share the story.

Akshita went to the shopping mall, taking along her son, Armaan, since there was none whom she could leave him with. Six-year-old Armaan loved to accompany his mother wherever she went and would often tag along. Being an only child, he was pampered by his parents. But of late, he was finding them getting stricter, when it came to his behaviours on moral values, though he could never really fathom what they were trying to get at. Nevertheless, after much persuasion, convincing and scolding, he would reluctantly agree to all that they would insist.

Though his parents usually provided Armaan with everything he wanted, and probably much more, he still had his weaknesses. He couldn’t really resist taking the things he liked, even if they belonged to others. Occasionally, if anything caught his fancy, he would simply pick it up and bring it home, without bothering to ask for the owner. This could be a pencil, an eraser or even a small toy. Sometimes Akshita would have no peace, watching over him, while standing at the billing counter of a store, lest he slips in a chocolate bar or a candy, into his pocket.

Likewise, he would also forget or lose his things anywhere and even give up without a fight, if anyone wilfully took them. To him, the “concept of ownership”, was yet unclear and not quite decipherable. Therefore, he would find it difficult to differentiate between the things that belonged to him viz-a-viz that of the others. “Sharing is caring” is what he was taught but “sharing” meant only temporary use and did not fetch him the right to ‘take away’ what belonged to others or even ‘give away’ his own, was something that he was still unable to interpret.

When Akshita looked at his peers, many of them, were quite matured in their attitude for this age, with a few just like Armaan. In a bid to raise him with healthy ideologies, she would often try various methods to correct him. She would teach him to take care of his own things; forbid him from taking things that was not his; reproach and insist he return anything that he’s brought home, without asking; explain what “stealing” meant and it’s bad consequences; tell him stories of how thieves are eventually caught by the police who could really get nasty; create belief in god and explain him as to how god would be angry at those children who stole other’s things etc.

Though Armaan seemed to be slowly changing and had by and large improved, he was still unpredictable. There would yet be those brief instances, when he would be overcome by temptation and act upon impulse. A reluctant Akshita, knowing that he was yet going to need some time, to totally grow out of it, would give up but not without reprimanding him. At the same time, she would always remain on her guard and watch over his activities, whenever she took him out.

Today, they had entered a huge supermarket to buy out the weekly groceries. Armaan seemed to be behaving well in the store and Akshita felt glad about it. After they were through with their shopping, famished, they dropped into an adjoining restaurant and occupied a table.

Akshita looked around. It was a nice place. One side of the restaurant which had the billing counter, also displayed a huge variety of delicious pastries and chocolates. She placed an order for two sandwiches because Armaan loved them and they waited for the meal to arrive. During this interval, Armaan suddenly began to act restless. He refused to sit up and started moving about the place. Especially he kept frolicking around the chocolate-pastry section. Akshita could not understand what had suddenly gotten over him, when everything had been going well, so far. She guessed that the goodies were probably getting him, a bit far too excited.

“Armaan, come here and sit beta”, she would keep on calling.

The words just didn’t seem to get through to him, though. At times, she would warn him that if he continued behaving like this, she would cancel the order and immediately leave, upon which he would quickly bounce back to his seat. But then he would sit there for only two minutes and eventually get back to his prancing activity. Exhausted and tired, somehow, they managed to finish the meal, pay the bill and get back home.

During the night, she saw him munching something.

“What’s that you’re eating?”, she questioned.

“Nothing”, he replied.

“Whatever it is, SPIT OUT.”, dad commanded.

Armaan spit out a whitish lump.

“What’s that? Was it a tissue that you were chewing?”, Akshita asked disdainfully.

“No, it’s a chocolate.”, he replied, hesitantly.

“Show me.”, Akshita and Sudhir both demanded.

He pulled out a packet of Mentos.

“Where did you get these from?”, Akshita demanded, for that was never a part of her today’s purchase.

“It’s from the restaurant. I took it from there.”, he replied in a straightforward manner, with a childlike, innocent expression.

Akshita and Sudhir both got furious. A frustrated Akshita simply got up and spanked him while Sudhir began yelling at him. Akshita joined in the screaming too. At the end of the session, both declared that they would not talk to this bad boy, at which, a tearful Armaan, began crying and pleading a “Sorry”.

“Do you know what you’ve done?”, Akshita could not bring herself to relent.

“No.”, he nodded his head faultlessly.

“I only took a chocolate. ”, he replied in a small voice.

Sudhir glared at him.

“Because there were so many. But I took only one.”, he explained. The parents realised, he was trying to appease them with the fact that there were still several left behind, for the store-keeper’s use.

“Did we pay money for that?”, she jibed him further.

“No”, he replied innocently

“Did you ask that uncle whether you can take it? Or did you ask Mamma?”

“No” he replied, now, with an expression of having made a mistake.

They understood that rebuke was pointless because Armaan had not yet discerned anything.

“We’ll go to the restaurant tomorrow and pay up.” Sudhir suggested to Akshita.

Akshita agreed while Armaan intently listened to them, completely lost and trying to get a hang of what wrong he had done.

“Yes, and we’ll also apologise”, she added.

She then turned to Armaan and said, “Now, it’s YOU who will apologise. Not us. Because, it’s you who did it. You will say sorry to that uncle. Understood?”

“Ok. I will say sorry to uncle”, he agreed, not quite comprehending.

“Yes”, Sudhir agreed. Practice was better than preaching. Things sometimes needed to be demonstrated to make them see the light. Besides, Armaan needed to face it to sense the guilt, that was yet unknown to him. Today, for him, this embarrassment would be a small incident, as against the entire family losing face tomorrow, if this habit continues.

After sometime, a tired Armaan went off to sleep while a disturbed Akshita wondered, whether she should get him counselled, in case this behaviour persists.

Next day evening, as they all went to the restaurant, the waiter greeted them with a wide smile of recognition. Sudhir and Akshita headed towards the counter and explained that they wanted to pay for the chocolate that their child had unknowingly taken away.

The restaurant owner, cashier and the waiter, were all extremely abashed and firmly declined the money, for Armaan was just a child. But Sudhir and Akshita would have none of it because they did not want to encourage this practice with Armaan. He had to understand that what he had done was not correct. Next, Sudhir commanded Armaan to apologise. Armaan turned red- faced. His expression reflected shame and insult, as he mouthed an inaudible “sorry”.

But the restaurant guys would not agree. After much persuasion, the owner told them the price of the Mentos and Sudhir placed the money at the counter which the owner was still mortified to accept. They all felt sorry for the little boy. With great hesitation, they took the money and in return, dotingly handed over two lollipop candies to Armaan as a gift, which he aacepted, but with his head bowed down deep, so much so that, now he found it difficult to say a “thank you”.

At home, they found Armaan thinking about it, for quite a long time and seeking more clarifications on all that had happened today, after which he finally declared, “Mamma, I will not do it again.”

At least for now, the parents felt glad about the example that they had tried to set, to make him see perspective, by getting him to make a restitution. Maybe, he will need some more repetitions of this, but they were determined to do it and if required, arrange for him to be counselled.

At bedtime, as they all lied down to sleep, Armaan insisted that Akshita hug him and she immediately found herself lying down beside, caressing him. Once he drifted off to sleep, Akshita couldn’t help lovingly stroke and kiss her little boy, besides feeling bad for all that he had to go through today. But nipping this off in the bud was necessary, which could happen only if certain lessons were provided at the right time and in a manner that he understood.

She loved this little boy more than anything else in the world but, a bittersweet journey that it is, parenting does render its own share of ups and downs, she realised. Sometimes parents get no choice other than to act tough, but all in their child’s long-term interest and welfare. She was glad about the way they had handled the situation today.

Author’s Note:

Small children often take the away things they want, without seeking permission. They don’t realise that it’s wrong for them to do so or even understand the fact that there’s a cost involved.

Having come across a parent who decided to handle it through an illustration, I felt I should share the story.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.