Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Still Stealing

I am going to lose my mind. I need some new ideas and I need them now. Everything I have tried has failed and maybe it is just the way I look at this. Ava is a thief. She is also a big time liar. She steals anything not nailed down and it magically disappears, there is no trace. She is allowed to be in the Playroom, Kitchen, and Living Room only. She is not allowed upstairs unsupervised but she still finds a way to do it. She sneaks candy, make up, hair bows, money, earrings, shoes, and any other thing you can think of. Most times she has no use for the items she takes. She never spends the money, uses the earrings, or wears the items. She does manage to eat the candy or cookies and leave the wrappers on her bed. The amount of energy it takes to monitor this child is overwhelming. She is the sneakiest and slickest I have ever encountered. She takes the very second it takes me to speak to another child and uses it to her advantage. She manipulates all of us. She is very intelligent but puts on one of the best shows I have ever seen to make us believe she is stupid. She is so good that I almost believe her most times, I have to remind myself of her IQ. I am to the point I am struggling to be cheery and nice. I remind her she can't make me stop loving her no matter how hard she tries but I am really starting to dislike this child. I am having a hard time snuggling or spending alone time with her but that is what she needs. Give me some suggestions to cope, anything you can think of.

Patches is peeing on her bed every night and driving Cyr crazy. She is old enough to tell me she is low or out of pull ups but didn't and instead chooses to pee all over her bed and not change the bedding for 3 nights.

Eddie is our Pee King. The boy goes every night and day on himself. His poor Mother gets so frustrated but has the patience of a saint. I am not sure how he manages to overflow his pull up every night and stink up the room but he does. At least he is good at it. LOL

Michael is having a hard time being nice to Eddie. He forgets he is 3 yrs younger and loses his cool with him. He put a sign up on their door that said, "I do not want Eddie in my room". He is writing a letter of apology today.

Cyr is opening up to Rosa. It surprised Rosa that she was so candid about her family. She is watching out for Cyr to admit to any abuse. I hope she is finally able to confide in someone.

Emma returned home to discover many of her toys were played with and lost. The kids are cleaning out the girls' room to find them. They are not happy campers. I am so glad she is back. She loves to go but I miss her so much when it gets too long. It reminds me what her Mother feels while she is here.

Ella is working to stand up for herself and doing a great job. Not always but more effort this month than in the last 3 years. Maybe she is tired of being run over.

My DH is leaving town next month for a month. I will miss him but our food bill will be cut dramatically and he will have a good time.


Lisa said...

Can you do the thing where she is attached to you? I think you may have tried this already with her. What about tapping....problem is I can't come with a phrase to use. I'll be thinking.... bottle time after she goes to sleep then telling her she has enough. She will always have stuff and you will always love her....blah, blah, blah.

Phrase on tapping...

I have enough

Just throwing'em out there...

Carmine Crayon said...

I know you are short on space, and I think Ava shares a room, but... Is there anyway you can move her by herself and strip her of all her things? Even if she's sharing a room, just take all her stuff out. Heck, even her clothes. Just give her an outfit each day, but keep it in your room. This might help with "what it feels like to have your things taken" and she has to earn it back - like after two weeks of not stealing. If you are feeling really cruel [lol], you could give her stuff to the other kids for two weeks! If she tries to hide something in her room, it would be obvious. I don't know, just a thought. They do this to the girls at the RTC. Strip them right down to their mattress cover. You've probably already done this! Remind me, where is she at in the bunch on IQ? Ella was the highest and Ruthie the lowest, right?

Nichole said...

You probably already have Ava in counseling, but that is all I really can think of. It sounds like it is completely a compulsive behavior for her.

I've said this before, but I think you are amazing. Being able to take care of so many children with so many issues takes someone with a huge heart and A LOT of patience!

Kath said...


I have no advice, but I am preying for you all, and especially Ava.


Lyn said...

I have no experience with any of the symptoms your children present but could you put buzzers on the doors and stair cases that ring when someone passes into the room so that if she walks thru the lazer, you'll know she went upstairs and can catch the incident? Have you ever tried taking something of hers every time she takes something from others until she is down to school uniforms, pajamas and her bed? Oh good luck girl! I'm sorry this is going on but things will get better!

Lindsay said...

Is it possible that Ava's stealing is not about stealing as such, but a psychological disorder (such as Kleptomania). In which case the act of stealing is a release of stress and tension for her and/or provides feelings of happiness or control. I know with Kleptomania the items stolen are as you describe: no monetary value and generally not used by the thief. Or, if the stealing doesn't bring her feelings of pleasure, could it be OCD, and she simply cannot control the behaviour and it is linked to high levels of anxiety?

Perhpas you could look up the DSM IV criteria for Kleptomania and see if it fits Ava's behaviour; or ask her therapist.

(And credit to Michael if he spelled the sign on his door right :) )

Tudu said...

The problem with Ava is she has lost everything. She even managed to steal enough that she no longer has ANY of the things she received for the holiday and her birthday. It is so hard to watch her give her presents away.

We were doing the leash thing but I couldn't find one that worked well for us. The kind they sell in the store are too small. I made one but it didn't work well either.

In IQs, Ava is the highest of all the sib group and Ruthie is the lowest. Ella is right above Ruthie.

I'm sure this is intentional. She is getting something from it, we just can't figure out what. Maybe reassurance she isn't worthy? I'm just sick and tired of worrying about what she will get next. I can't figure out where she puts everything, it's just gone.

Lisa said...

My 14 yo son has done this his entire life (we got him at 10 mos). Our therapist said to "shrink his world" - strip his room completely, alarm on the door, padlocks on the pantry and fridge, keyed locks on the older kids bedrooms for when they leave the house (the regular passage locks were too easy for him to jimmy open). We did it all and he became angrier and angrier. He isn't getting away with much now (but he still manages to get away with some - especially at school where they still think he's just adorable). I have to admit that I don't like him very much at all. I never thought I could say that about my child, but it's remarkably easy not to like him. We only gave him very few gifts for Christmas and he's already ruined those. When seeing his counselor one day he screamed, "They got me NUTHING for Christmas!!!" This was someone new to us (again) and she was just appalled at how cruel we were (okey dokey then). Apparently, we need to buy him things to show our love for him, because gifts shouldn't be earned. Well, okay then, he can call me a lying bitch over and over all day and I'm supposed to hand over the loot then? I don't think so. I think it's a compulsion, but one that's going to land them in jail sooner or later - we owe it to them to not let them get away with anything. Even if we don't make them do the right thing, society will.

Talulah said...

Do you think she may be flushing things down the toilet? Isn't she the one that was dipping the other kids toothbrushes in the toilet?

Innocent Observer said...

I have no helpful advice. Sorry.

Where is hubby going for a month? I hope it's someplace fun. That's a long time!

Perspective is Everything said...

I'm really not familiar with the history here. So forgive me if I step on toes. My intentions are to leave good info and be helpful. Here is a link I found that might help if you didn't already have it.


We have struggled in the past with my son being extremely manipulative and stealing. He still does it but not nearly as often, and he will usually feel safe enough to tell the truth later on. Now I kinda know what to look for and "warning signs" if you will. But then sometimes I still can't believe some of the stuff he does!

Lorie said...

Hey Tudu,

I haven't posted in a while :-( and can't believe all the things you endure...you are an amazing woman. When I speak at our agency about adoption there is always a family there who talks about their son who stole when he came home. What they did to deal with it was very controversial but worked for them. They stocked a closet (in the garage, I believe) with snacks dollar store toys, candy...everything. It was free for all of the kids to help themselves to (I would freak, cause I don't allow Aria sugar on a daily basis, but this would work for that too :-) Anyway they had always told him that anything in the cupboard was his to eat, break or whatever and it would be replenished (food only, not toys). Well he ate all of the food in one day (I guess it was Costco bags full of stuff) and the next day the closet was full again, he tried to eat it all again the second day and got bored, when he realized that it was always there and would never go away...he finally stopped wanting it. I know that this may not work for Ava.

The only other thing I can suggest is Sharpie marker in big letters the names on all the kid's toys, at least if she has someone else's stuff it says on it clearly it belongs to everyone else. Last suggestion, buy locked foot lockers for all the kids and give them keys (you keep the dupes) and just have all the kids keep the things they don't want stolen in the locked containers.

I know these ideas are all over the map...but boy...who knows what will work and what won't.

All my love,

Perspective is Everything said...

That's some good stuff! post from Lorie

Annie said...

Absolutely no advice/perspective to give - fostercare and issues like this are still a far-off and hypothetical place to me - but I vowed to myself that I would LEAVE A COMMENT FOR TUDU TODAY, because your blog is on my watch list and for the three posts I may have commented on in the last six months, there are probably dozens I haven't.
So this is just a hello-I-am-still-reading note, because I never do... I don't know you or have anything relevant to offer...

Michelle said...

Does Ava get an allowance? If she did, I would pay one of the OTHER kids to be her "watch kid" out of her allowance. The mean mother that I am, I'd make darned sure she knew it was HER allowance that was paying for this.

Another idea that I had, I think I would buy some WONDERFUL presents for her. Wonderful. Stuff she's always wanted. I'd show them too her and talk about how fun they are. Then I'd lock them up and tell her that IF she doesn't steal from ANYONE for x number of days, she can pick one of them. If this worked I'd continue on for a while.

My last idea....has she ever taken a tour of a prison/jail. I think I'd arrange for a tour, and hopefully, if you explained the nature of the problem to the jail people, they'd help point out the thieves that are in jail. Along that lines, can you show her in the newspaper where people are arrested for stealing.

I know these probably aren't going to help, but you did ask for ANY suggestions, lol.

BTW, I point out homeless people to my children occassionally and tell them, "They probably didn't get a good education and wound up homeless...better study hard". Now I KNOW that not all homeless people are uneducated and I KNOW that lots of them have mental problems. But some *probably* are homeless due to their lack of education. I wonder if this tactic, along with the other tactic's would start to drill into her the seriousness of her crimes...or at least the consequences, if you pointed out to her that many of those people may be homeless because of their bad choices/crimes/etc? Along that lines, do you think she could camp out one night, to experience the cold and bring the reality of homelessness home?

Just brainstorming....