Below is an actual (almost) example that I recently encountered in the classroom.

Student: “Tom stole my lego fireman!”

Me: “Macaroni & cheese!”

Students: “Everybody freeze!”

Me: “ Children, leave your work where it is and gather around on the carpet so that we can discuss stealing. Legs go ‘criss - cross - applesauce’, or legs in a basket.

Address the whole class because at some point in the children’s lives, they will be affected by stealing; either they may be the thief, tempted or the victim.

The deterrent

Me: “I want you to think about an item that you have that is very special to you, it is yours, you own it. You have put this item in your school bag to play with at the school break time. Maybe your mom gave it to you or your dad or grandma or grandpa or guardian

Include the adults that you know are in your children’s’ lives.

Me: "You may want to close your eyes. What colour is your item? Where do you keep it? What do you do with it?

Build up an image in the children’s minds, help them to paint a picture of their special item.

Me: "Now, imagine that someone stole it from out of your bag. How do you feel? Open your eyes. Who would like to share how they would feel if someone went into your bag and stole your item? Ishaq.”

Ishaq: “I would be mad. I would want to get my toy back.”

Me: “Iman.”

Iman:” I would cry. I want my doll back.”

Try to have as many children as their patience will withstand to drive home the message that everyone would be hurt, mad, angry, sad and/or want to fight to get their toy back. Sometimes, this gathering is enough for the thief to return the stolen item; sometimes not.

Me: “If you stole someone's belongings what could you do? Does anyone have any suggestions? Riyaan.”

Riyaan, “Give back the toy.”

Me: “That is right, Riyaan, give back what you have taken.

Repeat the children’s ideas to ensure that everyone heard and to build the contributor’s confidence - kids love their ideas used by their teacher and/or adult.

Tyler: “Say you are sorry and you won’t do it again.”

Me: “Yes, Tyler. Let’s practise saying we are sorry. I’ll say it first and then you can repeat after me. I am sorry Tom. Your turn, I am sorry Tom. "

Me: "Here is your toy back. Children, here is your toy back.

As you role model the language, point to yourself when it is your turn and point to the children when it is their turn. Language should be role modelled often because some children have not heard some aspects of language.

Me: "Sometimes, people really like what you have and they do not know how to ask you to play with your toy or see your toy so they might take it.”

Don’t use the word, ‘will’ take it, nothing is definite.

Continue to role model the language of asking to see another’s item and/or play with it. Talk about children’s personal school bags and how they are private property as well.

The child that stole the original item will have hopefully returned it. If not, ask Tom to get the toy and say that he is sorry. I encourage children to forgive and forget. Start fresh.

Me: You have learned from the stealing. You have learned how to say that you are sorry. You have learned to give the toy back and you have learned to start fresh. All set?”

Student: “You bet!”

Me: “Go back to your work.”