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Childhood Sins Haunt Me; My Heart Is Burning!

06 December, 2022
Q As’salamu alaikum dear brothers and sisters. I’m 14 and my sins from times on which I didn’t hit puberty yet haunt me.I used to steal from a small store, stuff like keychains and surprise eggs I was 6-10 years old at that time I knew that stealing was haram but I didn’t have the capacity to realize that what I was doing is wrong. I cannot find the owner of the shop. Does it count as a sin? And is it okay if I give charity in the name of the shop owner? I also used to bully a classmate of mine at that age. I found her and gave her a genuine apology. Does that count as a sin too? My heart is burning because of guilt please help me!


In this counseling answer:

  • You feel very guilty, which is the sign of your sincere and pure nature, masallah.
  • You knew that stealing was haram, but you didn’t have the capacity to realize that it was wrong. This is the normal way of cognitive and moral development.
  • Due to their lack of sound judgment, children are not accountable for their actions.
  • Write a letter to the shop owner, do charity or some good deeds in his name.

Salam alaikom wa rahmatullah,

Thank you for writing. You are asking about sins that you committed earlier in your childhood. You mention that you stole keychains and surprise eggs from the small store when you were between 6 and 10.

You feel very guilty, which is the sign of your innocent and pure nature, masallah.

You are still very young, in your teens, and you were even younger when you committed these actions.

Actually, you gave the explanation: you knew that stealing was haram, but you didn’t have the capacity to realize that it was wrong.

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There is a very simple reason for that: you did not reach cognitive maturation then. This includes the formation of moral judgment, when one is able to decide between right and wrong.

The Moral Judgment

According to modern psychology, the formation of moral judgment is a developmental process. 

The probably most widely-known theory was developed by Lawrence Kohlberg who argued that there are 3 main stages of the moral judgment formation.

Of course, these stages serve more as orientation, and on an individual level, you can observe differences.  

The first stage—which lasts until about age 9—is called Preconventional morality. During this stage, you might be aware that there is a punishment for a certain action, but you might prioritize your own needs, like wanting to get a surprise egg at all costs.

Later in adolescence, you internalize the rules of permissible and prohibited behaviors and start to act according to them.

I am sure you see that this is exactly what happened to you, so know that this is the normal way of development. Furthermore, you are not alone: many children “break the rules” when they are young; this is a very common behavior.

Alhamdulillah, Islam is perfectly in balance with this: this is why, due to their lack of sound judgment, children are not accountable for their actions. Check this article out.

So, back to your question, you realized that you had done some things in your past that were wrong, and you repented.

What Can You Do?

If your repentance is sincere, ask forgiveness from Allah. Allah is All-Forgiving, All-Merciful:

 „And seek Allah’s forgiveness—indeed, Allah is All-Forgiving, Most Merciful.” (Quran 4:106)

When you have asked for forgiveness, you can expect that Allah has forgiven you, as this is what the Quran says:

 „But whoever repents after their wrongdoing and mends their ways, Allah will surely turn to them in forgiveness. Indeed, Allah is All-Forgiving, Most Merciful..” (Quran 5:39)

Move Forward and Focus on Your Present Behavior

You mention you cannot find the shop owner. You may wish to seek forgiveness, which is an excellent idea.

But if you have tried to find him and were unable to, there is nothing to worry about. Ask him to forgive you during your prayers. Besides, you have already asked Allah. 

Write a Letter

If you think that brings you some relief, write a letter to the shop owner. Even if you cannot deliver it, just express your repentance by directing some words to him.

The idea of charity is a beautiful one; of course, you can do that.

Also, if you do some good deeds in his name, and increase your own rewards.

Good deeds eradicate bad ones; it is in the Quran:

Surely good deeds wipe out evil deeds. That is a reminder for the mindful.” (Quran 11:114)

The same goes for bullying and other wrongdoings you might commit.

The important thing is that you realize that something was wrong, that you repent, and that you try not to do it again.

I think you are doing it very well, masallah, so just keep up with this attitude and trust in the mercy of Allah.

Wishing you the best,

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Disclaimer: The conceptualization and recommendations stated in this response are very general and purely based on the limited information provided in the question. In no event shall AboutIslam, its counselors or employees be held liable for any damages that may arise from your decision in the use of our services.

About Orsolya Ilham O.
Orsolya Ilhaam Oszter holds a BA degree in Communication and Manager in Public Relations, with a specialization in Andragogy and another BSC in Psychology. She studied Islamic sciences and obtained certificates in Islamic Counseling and Islamic Marriage Counseling. Previously she worked in a client-centered atmosphere; currently, as a translator, counselor, and content creator related to Islam, counseling, and psychology.