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Teenage Girl Caught Shoplifting Alcohol


My ​16-year-old daughter got caught shoplifting alcohol. While the store chose not to call the police, we are very concerned. She is a "follower" and will do just about anything to get people to like her. Any suggestions?


Parenting is a tough job, but we know the consequences we use in response to our children's behaviors can really have a positive impact on the choices they make in the future. Since the store chose not to involve the police, what consequences did you give your daughter for stealing?

Hopefully, she lost access to all electronics and all opportunities to use social media. Since you cannot trust her to go out unmonitored, we hope she lost that privilege as well. Children earn privileges by meeting their parents' expectations and obeying rules. And children should lose privileges for a certain amount of time when they don’t meet those expectations or break the rules.

Sometimes, when our children are the most difficult to be around, they need to be closest to us. Even at home, your daughter should be in a common area of the house most of the time rather than hanging out in her room alone or away from the family. She should be taking care of her chores without being asked and volunteering to help with other things, too.
Your daughter also should reimburse the store for the item or items she tried to steal. You could even give her an assignment to research the local shoplifting laws so she will understand what can happen if she tries to shoplift again.  

Consequences alone do not change behaviors. They’re most effective when they’re paired with teaching a more socially acceptable, alternative behavior. Spend time teaching your daughter what to do when she is with a group who is engaging in illegal or immoral behaviors. Teach her how to get herself out of those situations or how to avoid them in the first place. Talk about scenarios she may face and practice with her on how she would handle them. If her ideas are different from what you would like her to do, offer other suggestions that might lead to more positive choices and outcomes.

We cannot protect our children from every threat or remove every danger from their world. But we can teach them skills they can use to protect themselves and help them develop a moral compass that will empower them to make good choices and stay out of trouble.

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