How do I get through to my 16 year old daughter that thinks it is ok to steal?

Erica - posted on 09/10/2009 ( 17 moms have responded )

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My daughter is 16 years old and it seems that no matter what I do I can't get through to her. I have had my hands full with her since she was about 4 years old. She has been in and out of counseling since age 4, she refuses to talk to the couselors. She has been diagnosed bipolar, odd and ocd and explosive temper disorder. She has been on several different combinations of meds over the years. She has also been in several facilities for behavior problems and attempting sucide. She steals from anywhere we take her, she has stolen from me, my mom, her dad, her friends, and school. She started a new school this year and I told her it was a chance for her to start over. By the second week of school she had 3 days ISS for stealing from a classmate, she took things from a friend's house and the mother came over and we had a talk about it and made my daughter give the items back, so she lost the few friends she has made. She is wanting to get a part time job but it scares me to death that she will steal from her job and end up getting charges pressed against her. In all the times she has been caught stealing no charges have been filed. Every punishment I have given to her hasn't worked. I could take away everything she has, and have, and it doesn't bother her at all. We are getting ready to go back to the doctor to see if he will change her meds and refer us to a psychiatrist. I am just so frustrated and I am out of ideas of how to get through to her. She asks like she doesn't know the difference between right and wrong and I know she does. I am just at a loss for what to do to help her the best I can. So you have any ideas of what I could try please let me know.

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Kimberly - posted on 09/29/2009

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Take her on a visit to the county jail!!! Scared straight usually works!!

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Allison - posted on 10/02/2009

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Allowing her to get caught and see what will become of her stealing problem will probably help. I know my son thought stealing was cool for awhile then I called the cops and that put an end to it. He new I meant business and realized how lame it makes him look once he had cops talking to him. Making her realize that you are not going to take the rap for her poor choices may make her realize that she is sixteen and will soon be responsible for herself. I wish you tons of luck!

Jan - posted on 09/29/2009

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You poor love, you must be so worried & in such turmoil....& probably your daughter is too. She probably feels that everyone is against her & is very confused & distressed. I think you need to sit down with her calmly & tell her your worries, but give her time to respond, maybe you could suggest she writes you a note in her own time telling you how she feels & any worries she has. If this fails then perhaps you could speak to a community police officer, explain to them her problems & your concerns. They can arrange for someone to come & speak to her in your home, so at least shes in familiar surroundings. I hope this problem is resolved soon, I wish you & your daughter happiness. x

Fiona - posted on 09/27/2009

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Hi have you tried when she steals she has to go and give it all back by herself take her their to the door or shop staff then walk away and make her tell them and they will talk to her tell them to tell her she will go to jail. If she has stolen from a shop make her take it back. Take the item with you take her into the shop and she has to give the item back and tell them what she did. I have had to do this once with my daughter she was in tears and has never done it again. I told them to call the police so they could talk to her just to scare the shit out of her LOL but hey it worked. Good luck take care Fiona

Janice - posted on 09/27/2009

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She needs to speak with a therapist for sure! I think this should be the first step! Have you heard of "scared straight". Maybe charges being brought against her, would help. My mom use to say a "bought" lesson is better than a "told" lesson. You can tell a person forever what could happen to them if they continue to do a certain thing, but if it actually happens to them, and they buy it, they will never forget the lesson! You can call the local police department and talk with them about bringing her in and pretending she's going to charged with stealing, telling her what the punishment will be, actually handcuffing her and putting her in a cell (if possible) and see what happens!

M. Jessica - posted on 09/26/2009

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I'm looking at this same situation happening in the future w/ my 9 yr. old, who has ADD and Compulsive issues. At this point, we're hoping counseling will work. Because she doesn't seem to care unless it is important to HER, I already have a game plan if it doesn't work. That is to ask the police if it might be possible to do a "jail tour", showing and explaining what happens to those who are incarcerated. I don't know if this would work for your daughter, but I thought I'd share. Here's good luck to us all!

Erin - posted on 09/26/2009

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I think a good thing for kids like this is to find a mentor. Find someone you can trust that she likes, that would take an interest in her life...someone that isnt too old, and who she might consider cool. Try to encourage your daughter to get a hobby of some sort. Encourage her to go and do things like go to rock concerts or whatever. I think a lot of the problem is kids like this are bored, sick of being told what to do, sick of being "counseled", and sick of being "sick". I was involved as a mentor for at risk kids. A lot of them have a huge problem with authority...someone nagging constantly. They just want to be treated with respect and understanding...allowed to make their own decisions...it's a tough road for their parents,( because parents instinct is usually to nag, which to kids is NEGATIVE REINFORCEMENT. They crave any kind of attention, so they do bad things to get it.) I had one girl who just needed someone to "always be there for her, no matter what"...and that's what I did. Now she's getting her life together and lives in LA as a nanny. Hang in there....it will get better...just let her make her own mistakes, give her what she needs (love and guidance, limited nagging) and keep trying to get through to her. Best thing tho, is probably a mentor. Good luck.

Sherry - posted on 09/26/2009

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It sounds like tough love is the route to go by. If she steals again and the other party won't press charges then you can. Maybe a trip to the local JV will shake her enough and give her enough attention that she seems to crave-to stop what she's doing and maybe realize bad attention isn't the route she wants to go. Better now to find out if a "shock" like JV will knock it out of her than over 17 and getting a permanent arrest record. Most employers DO NOT hire people with a record of theft. And at the very least they will ask you during your interview why you checked the box for misdeamor/felony. And that's another route she may take. I assume most items she has taken are under the felony price range ($500) but once she goes above that range regardless of her age she will be charged with a felony. I've also worked with the local JV and court system as a CASA. Best thing for you and your family (other siblings) find a support structure-they are out there. And please remember that whatever she is doing it is not a reflection of how she was raised or the kind of person you are. It truely is something inside her.

Regina - posted on 09/17/2009

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At this point she may get to the point where she has to face the consequences herself.
The law is about to catch up with her someday.
Meanwhile, I agree with Lynn get counseling for yourself...you need a strong support system for now and possibly in the future.
It sounds like you have been trying to do everything right.
Get your support system in place for YOU!

Tara - posted on 09/16/2009

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Maybe if you allow her to get a part time job it may reduce even stop her from stealing because she would have money. I have a 12 year old who doesnt steal but has a very bad temper which he was semi arrested and put in a juvinile detention center for the weekend then released back to me. Basically by using tough love and police interaction as well as the other kids in the center scared him enough to change a little we still have issues but going to jail at that age isnt a field trip, nor is the police escort and orange jumpsuit. So if your daughter steals from work they could have her arrested maybe that is what she needs!

Erica - posted on 09/15/2009

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I just want to tell everyone thank you for your advice. I made phone calls today to get her back into counseling and we went to the dr yesterday to change her meds. I will just keep trying to get through to her. Thanks for the support!

Lynn - posted on 09/14/2009

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We parents will never give up hope and love. But we can give up bailing them out and covering up for them, and especially give up blaming ourselves. They are the ones making the choices that have led them to incarceration. If you've "tried everything" at this point, counseling for yourselves to learn how to cope is your best option. Eronne - a support group is a great idea! Good Luck and God bless.

Eronne - posted on 09/13/2009

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I went through this issue with my son. It started when he turned 9 and continued until he was 18. I made the worst mistake of my life by phoning the police. It put him into the system, cost him his education and introduced him to a very dangerous group of young people. I had been advised by many parents in similar situations and they unanimously agree that 'calling the cops' was the worst thing they could have done.
Ironically he just stopped when he was 18. I don't know why but I do know that when I ask him now what made a difference, he said that it was that I never gave up on him. I have started a community for parents of kids in trouble in hopes that we can come up with some solutions as the problem seems to be growing.
Eronne
Cackleberries - stop the violence at 3

Dottie - posted on 09/13/2009

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I just called the police on my 12 year old son for stealing $50.00 from us. I am lucky I guess he only steals from family. He has stolen from stores and got caught. We knew the manager and he didn't press charges. He has taken money from us so many times, and so many times he has told he would stop. Well while I was typing this the police called me back and told me that he did not want to came and arrest him. The reason is because I would be the one to pay the fines that he would get. So like you I am between a rock and a hard place. I also don't know what to do next, I just know that like you I will NEVER give up trying to turn him around.

Erica - posted on 09/11/2009

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Lynn thank you for the advice. I have gone to childrens services and involved the juvi officer in the past. Childrens services said that they couldn't help me because my daughter was not being abused or abusing any of us. What can I do to turn her over to the juvenile system? I am just at my wits end on what to do to get through to her. Any thing I can do to keep her from messing up the rest of her life I will try.

Lynn - posted on 09/11/2009

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Focus on yourself and find a support group for parents. At this point, she may never change and may eventually go to jail. Having never been charged with stealing, she probably doesn't grasp the serious consequences that will ensue. At 16 she can be considered "incorrrigible" and you may have to turn her over to the Juvenile System. I worked for our local Juvy Sys and if she can face the music now, it won't go on her adult record. Mental illness, chronic "sticky fingers", whatever it is, she should face the consequences of her actions before she is 18. I hope this helped. Stay strong.

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