Featured in Pre-Teens & Teens
Stealing can be an issue among some teens and pre-teens. If it does occur with your teen, it can be very difficult to comprehend. There can be a lot of emotions that you are facing, as well as the emotions your teen is facing – especially if he or she is arrested for stealing.
Methods of Discipline
If you find out your teen or pre-teen has been stealing, even just once, it is best not to overreact. Dealing with the situation calmly is best but can be difficult to achieve. There are ways parents can handle the situation that can help their teen deal with stealing.
1. Try to understand why your teen or pre-teen has resorted to stealing. There can be many reasons for this – it could be because his or her friends have put pressure on him or her, it could be a cry for help and attention, it could be for the thrill of it or any other reason.
2. Talk with your teen rationally to find out what was behind the stealing – and really listen to what he or she says. Be sure to keep the talk centered and calm, even with rising emotions. Making your teen feel guilty or fearful may send them in a negative direction, which you want to avoid.
3. If your teen is having other difficulties in addition to the stealing or if the stealing has gotten out of control, it may be necessary to seek some professional help for your teen or pre-teen. Stealing behaviors may reflect stress the teen is facing at school, with friends or even from home. If these are possible reasons for the stealing, it may be time that your child sees a therapist to deal with their emotions before this goes any further.
4. Helping your child deal with emotions will hopefully make them feel better about themselves and the stealing should stop, unless there is an addiction. Be sure to give your teen attention when they do something more positive in their lives – in other words, positively reinforce the behaviors you want your teen to perform.
5. Get your teen involved in something constructive that gives them some excitement, especially if stealing is due to the thrill or rush.
Helping your child cope
Regardless of the reason why your pre-teen or teen is stealing, parents need to help the child with stealing. This kind of behavior can result in other destructive behaviors so it is best to deal with the situation when it occurs, instead of chalking it up to one time or thinking this is a phase that your child will outgrow. While you need to support your teen, you also need to be firm. The consequence you (or perhaps the courts) dish out should reflect the gravity of the situation. Be consistent with discipline and make your teen understand that you will not condone this type of behavior. Make sure you do this in a loving but stern manner. And if you feel that the situation is out of control, do not wait to seek professional help. Sometimes that is what it takes for your teen to recognize the severity of the issue.