If you’re the parent of a teenager who steals, how should you react to this problem? Find out what one parent did and what our counselor and parenting expert, Annie Fox, advised. The following are excerpts from Annie's book, Teaching Kids to Be Good People.
What Would You Teach Here?
My parents give me allowance, but not enough. Since I go out with girls I need money. I also need money for my motorbike. My dad understands, but my mom doesn’t let him give me more money.
I earn extra cutting the grass for neighbors. But these little jobs aren’t enough for getting all the money I want.
I came to the extreme point of stealing from the supermarket but I was caught. Now my parents don’t give me any more money. My mom won’t talk to me. I am very sad. – 16-year-old. (Page 59)
Read Annie Fox’s Reply To:
“Why don’t my parents give me more money?”
It sounds like you are blaming your parents (just a little) for the fact that you were “desperate” enough to steal. Nothing your parents did caused you to steal. You knew it was wrong, and there was a chance you would get caught. And you chose to do it anyway. So please take responsibility for what you did. That is the only way that you can avoid making those kinds of choices.
OK, now…moving forward. Your mother is upset and disappointed. She may be angry and hurt as well.
You want more independence, and to get that you need to rebuild the trust that you’ve damaged. It’s going to take time and a “new history” to show your parents that you know how to make good choices.
The first step would be to apologize to them for the hurt you caused. That might help heal things between you. You should also be thinking about what you learned through all of this.
Hopefully you’ve learned something about choices and consequences, so the next time you feel “desperate” to get some money for going out with girls, etc., you will find ways to earn it and not ever steal again. When you figure out what you’ve learned, talk to your parents. Explain your new way of thinking to them. Consistently make healthier choices, and over time, you will help heal the relationship. (From pages 211-212)
Annie is a wise counselor. She did several great things in her reply:
1. She advised the girl to stop blaming her parents.
2. She reminded the girl that stealing was her choice.
3. She told the girl to take responsibility for her actions.
4. She acknowledged the girl want more independence.
5. She shared the process. Apologize and create a “new history,”
6. She asked the girl to think about what she learned about choices and consequences.
7. She told the girl to earn what she wants.
8. She advised her to explain her new way of thinking to her parent to help heal the relationship.
9. She told her to consistently make good choices over time.
If you have kids with behavior problems, you’ll find great advice from Annie Fox.
Available at Amazon.com
Let's HONOR Annie Fox for her unique book filled with letters from teens and her responses to them. We profit by her wisdom for kids and their behavior problems.
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