Shoplifting: How to respond When Your Teen Steals

Why Do Kids Steal?

Sometimes shoplifting can be indicative of deeper emotional problems in teenagers. More commonly however, what teens get out of shoplifting is empowerment. For some kids making that transition from childhood to adulthood, pushing boundaries gives them a sense of control and self agency that they’ve never had before. And, they get free stuff too.’

Cause and Effect?

If you’ve tried talking to your kid about shoplifting, remember this: the human brain doesn’t develop fully until age 25. Thus, a 14 or 15 year old may not have a good understanding of cause and effect. Therefore rational explanations about how shoplifting hurts others probably won’t resonate. Examples of this might be how stealing hurts shop owners, employees who have to be accountable and consumers who might have to pay more.

We have a suggestion about how you can best handle this kind of situation with your kid, and we get away with it in this Tips on Teens:

“I recently learned that my son has been shoplifting. He hasn’t been caught yet, but I’m worried he will be. I figured out he was stealing stuff when I saw new articles of clothing showing up in his room that I didn’t buy for him. He admitted it to me and also that he’s been stealing candy and food from the drug store by his school. I talked to him about it, but I know he’s still doing it. How do I stop this before he gets arrested?”

Clinical Director Kent Toussaint answers your parenting questions every Wednesday at 12:00pm in our weekly segment Tips On Teens on Facebook Live. Have questions about parenting kids and teens? Send them to: We love to hear from you!

Head on over to our Facebook page every Wednesday at 12:00pm to watch LIVE!  Check out our page here –

If you have more questions or would like more information, please contact our Clinical Director, Kent Toussaint at 818.697.8555.