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When kids are caught stealing

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When kids steal, for some reason, it's pretty serious. Every once in a while, kids will steal because they are with friends; but very often, it is a habit. When someone steals, they have probably done it a number of times before they get caught. To be honest, it is pretty easy for teenagers to steal. Once they get caught, they are getting sloppy in some ways. If someone steals, it is usually a sign that something else is going on. This is when you sit down with your kids and say, "Help me understand. I need to to help me understand." If we get too caught up in the consequence, that's all they are going to focus on. They are probably not going to stop and get better at it and probably won't change their behavior. This is the time when I sit with kids. This is when grounding is actually useful, not to stop them from going out but to have time with them as a family. You want to say, "I want you to hang out in your room for a while, but we need to talk." "When will grounding be up?" "Grounding will be up when I understand why you stole that and what that was all about. I really need to have a sense of understanding." This is when we really need to use our intuition as parents. Does that sound like it's right? Many kids will steal and they don't know why they are stealing. Part of our job is to help them sort through it. There are times when an outside counselor needs to happen. Sometimes kids need to put things together and they do better with a counselor, than they do with you. That's maybe not what you want, but they need an outside person to help them sort it through. Stealing is one of those things we don't want to whitewash. Not to scream at them, but to understand why they would do this.

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Michael Riera, PhD

Head Of School, Brentwood School

Michael Riera, PhD, Educator, Author, Media Personality, and Speaker. Michael Riera is the Head of School at the Brentwood School, best-selling author, award-winning columnist, educator, television commentator, and national speaker on issues of children, adolescents, families, and parenting. Mike is the author of Right From Wrong: instilling a Sense of integrity in Our Children, Field Guide to the American Teenager, Uncommon Sense For Parents With Teenagers, and Surviving High School. His most recent book, Staying Connected To Your Teenager, was launched with three appearances on Oprah! For eight years he was the Family Consultant for CBS The Saturday Morning Early Show and also hosted an award winning television show on the Oxygen Network, Life in Progress, as well as his own daily radio show, Family Talk with Dr. Mike. Mike has worked in schools for over 20 years as a head of school, counselor, dean of students, teacher and consultant. 

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