How to Discipline a Teenager for Shoplifting

A telephone call from local law enforcement informing you that your daughter is in custody for shoplifting may catch you by surprise. Teens often experiment with shoplifting, with 25 percent of shoplifters being minors, according to the National Association for Shoplifting Prevention. If your teen shoplifts, a strong disciplinary message is necessary to teach your adolescent a lesson about the negative effects of this behavior.

  1. Support whatever legal issues result from the shoplifting. For example, if your teen's theft resulted in the store calling the police, pick your child up from police custody. For a first offense, your child may just receive a lecture and a warning or your child may have a hearing that could result in restitution, according to attorney Mark Theoharis for

  1. Supervise your teenager making amends with the store from which he shoplifted, advises the KidsHealth website. Accompany your teen to the store to speak with a manager so he can apologize and either return the item or pay for it.

  1. Speak with your teen about the theft. Ask your child what motivated the shoplifting to determine the seriousness of the infraction. If your teen was thrill-seeking or acting on impulse, explain the seriousness of this crime and the result of hurting others and the legal ramifications of stealing. If your adolescent was stealing out of aggression without remorse, your child needs professional intervention to help change this pattern of behavior, recommends social worker James Lehman, with the Empowering Parents website.

  1. Institute a consequence for the shoplifting, advises Lehman. Perhaps your teen cannot return to stores or the mall for a week or two or you might insist that your teen shop only under your supervision for a specified time until she earns back trust.

  2. Tips

    By taking a firm stance against stealing, you teach your teen a strong lesson that should discourage future shoplifting. Resist the urge to minimize theft or look the other way -- your teen needs to understand that shoplifting is wrong. The embarrassment of making amends should be an effective deterrent against future episodes.