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Guide 2 Parenting   >   Teenagers and Stealing

Teenagers and Stealing

Many parents are shocked to discover that their teenager has a problem stealing. If you are in this situation and you want to learn how to deal with the issue, there are quite a few ways of handling this problem, but the first step is to really understand your son or daughter, and why he or she is stealing in the first place.

Many teenagers steal because they believe that they are unloved and do not belong. Teenagers in this situation often tend to think that it's okay to hurt other people because "nobody cares about them". It's a way of compensating for the plain that they feel. This phenomenon is known as the "revenge cycle".

It's not enough to love your child - you must also make sure that the child knows that they are loved and wanted. You need to find ways to let them know that they are important to you and the rest of the family. If your child is stealing or otherwise misbehaving, you need to separate the deed from the doer, and show your child love while working together to fix the problem.

Another common reason why children may steal is simply because it seems like the only way that they can get what they want. Sometimes parents can take the idea of not spoiling their teenagers a little too far, and offer the child nothing in terms of ownership.

Of course, that doesn't mean that you have give your child whatever they want, whenever they demand it! Instead you can find a way where you child can earn money or allowances from you. Setting up a family system where they can take on responsibilities while at the same time earning a few dollars, will go along way to preventing your teenager from stealing, and also help instill in them the discipline of (and satisfaction that comes from) working towards a goal and achieving it.

A habit that you should get into is to avoid placing unnecessary temptation in the way of your teenager. Teenagers don't have the same impulse control as adults. Don't leave money lying out in the open - for some teenagers, it may simply be too tempting to pass up. Learn to always keep your money and other valuables out of sight and in a safe place.

One common but difficult situation that parents face, is when they suspect that one sibling is stealing from another. You can immediately help with this issue, but giving each kid their own private lock box to help protect their items. In the longer run, you want to find out why your child is stealing - jealousy may well be the cause. Ask your children whether they believe that you favor one of them over the other, and listen attentively to their answers, and do not dismiss their feelings. If they do think you are indeed favoring their brother or sister, even if you feel is totally false, do not turn away. It's important to discuss with them how you feel and be sure to keep the discussion in a positive manner, without criticizing them.

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