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Kleptomania in Children

Kleptomania in Children

Kleptomania is a psychological disorder, which can leave a child in trauma. Learn about kleptomania in children and how to deal with it.
PsycholoGenie Staff
Kleptomaniac Definition: The condition of not being able to resist the urge to collect or hoard things. People with this disorder are compelled to steal things, generally objects of little or no significant value, such as pens, paper clips, tape, traffic cones, signs, and small toys.

Kleptomania is a undeniable desire to flick something. This disorder usually begins at adolescence and is seen as rare cases in children. Kleptomaniacs steal because they are mentally unstable, rather than being criminal in thought. Studies have shown that kleptomania is more common in women than men. Nonetheless, children too are affected by it.

Causes
Sadly, what causes kleptomania in children is unknown. As mentioned earlier, women in their late 30s are more at a risk of being affected by this tendency. The symptoms may begin to show at an early age of five. This problem is linked to a brain chemical known as Serotonin, which regulates the moods and emotions of an individual. There is also a theory which believes that this disorder maybe related to obsessive compulsive disorder or depression.

Symptoms
Kleptomania in young children is very traumatizing for the parents. Knowing a few symptoms will help to deal with this tendency better.
  • They get tensed and excited, at the same time, before and during stealing.
  • They feel euphoric after they've stolen the object of their affection.
  • A kleptomaniac does not need an accomplice. Hence they never encourage companions.
  • The feelings of rage, anger or revenge do not exist while stealing.
  • Such people not suffer from any hallucinations or is not a schizophrenic.
Young Kleptomaniacs
A desire to steal has its roots in an inferiority complex. Often, a few children feel deprived or feel the need to show off what does not belong to them. In either of the cases, a child is bound to steal. In cases, where children cannot afford a certain item, stealing becomes their only source of acquiring it. However, if your child steals once, it does not mean that the child is a kleptomaniac or a criminal. As a part of growing up, your child may experiment with the limits. However, once you've provided your children with the necessary education regarding consequences of stealing, the desire to steal disappears.

If the action of stealing continues for a longer period of time, then, the problem needs to be medically addressed. As an advice for the parents, understand, that kleptomania is a mental disorder and not a criminal act.

How to Deal with Kleptomania in Kids
This tendency stems from an underlying psychological problem such as stress, anxiety, eating disorders, substance abuse and other psychological disorders. Counseling is the first step towards dealing with such children. Kleptomania steals a child's dignity and brands him/her as a criminal. They lose out on friends and most importantly the trust of people around them. Parents need to understand that the child requires special care and attention. Try and engage your child in some physical activity. This will distract him/her from the act of stealing. The younger the child, the easier it is to deal with the problem.

Treatment
Cognitive behavioral therapy is recommended while treating a child with kleptomania. Sometimes antidepressants are also prescribed while dealing with this disorder. Prozac and Seroxat are the antidepressants that are prescribed during the treatment.

Don't be offended if your child's school teacher asks your child to empty the pockets. It may be slightly embarrassing for you and your child, however, this may actually help you seek a solution for the problem and treat your child.