Dealing with Kleptomania?

I was 15 and it was an age where friends meant a lot more than family. One such friend was ‘J’. J and I got very close after the 8th grade and  once he gifted me a Parker pen. It was also an age where getting a gift from a guy was a big deal and it did mean a lot to me! I was very careful not to lose it therefore never liked to share it with anyone. I wasn’t sure they would show the same commitment in keeping it safe.

Then one day my little sister wanted to use it. With much reluctance I gave it to her but she knew me and my anger well. She ensured it was safe in her hands. A deal was made. She would use it whenever at home and  in return she would to do whatever she was told. Then one day, one of  very close relatives/friends ( I would not reveal the names for obvious reasons) Mr & Mrs. X came home with their sons. Mr.X  is  decently rich and more importantly a doting father who took utmost care to give his kids all comforts they would ask for, sometimes even more. Their younger son, lets call him  Jr.X saw my sister using the pen and  sneaked it God knows when! 

I still remember the argument me and my sister had at home after they left. Now, we were very sure it was one those kids or may be  both who conspired since we  instantly found the pen missing after they left.

Then started the dilemma! They were too close to our family for us to go and confront and I was too stubborn to let go of it. I dint care if it meant a permanent crack between the two families.

My sister was confused. She along-with  mom went to their house the next day and found the pen lying on the table. Without any guilt she took it back home.

Here ends the story..

How many of you have come across something like this before? I have seen so many such incidents and I still do.  I would not want to believe that Jr.X was a thief as he had much better pens than that. All he had to do was name it, and he was sure to get it the same day. Yet he sneaked it ? Why?

This irresistible urge to steal something is called  Kleptomania. May be he was one!

Wiki says “ Kleptomania (from Greek: κλέπτειν, kleptein, “to steal”, and μανία, “mania“) is an irresistible urge to steal items of trivial value. People with this disorder are compelled to steal things, generally, but not limited to, objects of little or no significant value, such as penspaper clipspaper and tape. Some kleptomaniacs may not even be aware that they have committed the theft.”

Kleptomania is like any other disorder and agree or not, much prevalent in kids. Ofcourse, it can be handled well but what is important is that you confront the truth! Every child is a’darling’ or ‘Aankhon ka Taara’ to his/ her parents eyes and I can totally understand the anger and hurt when they hear such allegations. Its almost obvious for any parent to brush their shoulders off even when they know that it could indeed be possibility or for that matter even truth.

I am sure in this story also, Mr and Mrs.X  might  have known about this new pen which ‘landed out of no-where’ on their table.

Even then, would they have reacted well if my mom went ahead told them that it was their son who took  the pen from my house? Would they have actually appreciated the fact that someone took time and interest  and told them about it?

No!  Mothers, in general are very emotionally attached to their kids and find it really hard to accept such accusations. When you talk to her , she is  like “Your son/daughter plays with you, he/she helps you in household work, listens to you always and studies well. So can it be true that he/she can be stealing too?”  A Definite “No” is her answer or atleast that is what her heart says!

How do we deal this then? I feel knowing a little about this would definitely help and above all accepting the fact that your kid is going through this might bring some change.

I am sure, small kids do this without knowing its price and its value. Its just because they want it.  Nip it in the bud, I say!  Before it gets ingrained in them. Its far easier at this age to make them understand. Tell them that – whatever you don’t pay for is not yours! In the sense, if your parents have not bought it for you or if its not yours then you don’t have the right to claim it! If  its really something that the kid wants, parents might as well consider buying it or think of some other option. Of course, the choice and decision is theirs!

In school, its much more common for kids to bring their friends pencil, eraser etc. At this age, parents have to be a little more cautious and ensure that they take the kid to school next day and make him/her to confront the truth and apologise. I know its kind of embarrassing. But this is an age where they do get the point but are not old enough to take extreme steps due to that embarrassment. Talking to the child, making them understand about the other kids plight when he/she finds out about the lost things might help to a great extent.

Teenagers, when caught stealing need to be taught lesson in a hard way. At this age such activities are not taken well in the society. Its no more a disorder. They can get branded as a ‘thief’ and who knows – they can be jailed too. I personally do not think physical punishment would help. It might make the kid angry and aggressive. Counselling could be one of the options.

In most unfortunate situation, if a kid keeps doing this even after repeated warnings and counselling, parents should make no delay in reaching out to a therapist or support groups. Refraining to do it just because you don’t want to accept would do no good.

These were some To-Do’s for parents but we, as a society should be more aware of such things. Kleptomania is like any other disorder. If we ever come across someone with such a disorder instead of calling names we must try ways to make the person come out it.

I am not sure if Jr.X changed now. (Although, I really do hope so!) . In hindsight , we should have acted differently.  My mother should have told Mrs.X about her son and only then taken the pen. Yes, Mrs.X would have tried to brush off the allegations and may have even felt angry at my mom. But it could have saved her son from this compulsive disorder if he still suffers from it.

With this awareness and knowledge , can I be sure that I’d handle the situation well if, God-forbid! I ever find my son or daughter do it? Only time will tell!  Being aware does make me realise that  denying when someone actually took pain to point  it out  would do no good!

Think about it! You will agree some day or the other.



One response

  1. There is a philosophy in the business world that comes to mind- complaining customers are the best thing that a company can get. They are spending their valuable time telling you things that will help you improve.

    I guess information like this from any source should be considered similarly, and one should not feel angry at the person giving this information.

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