Most people like to get something for nothing – a bargain, a discount, or a freebie. But those people who actually resort to stealing are often “crying for help.” According to Something for Nothing: Shoplifting Addiction and Recovery (2002), people who resort to stealing are actually trying to resolve one of the following ten emotional motivations.
- Anger – to try to take back, to make life fair
- Grief – to fill the void due to a loss
- Depression – to distract from sadness, to get a lift
- Anxiety – to calm fears, to comfort
- Acceptance & Competition – to fit in
- Power & Control – to counteract feeling lost or powerless
- Boredom & Excitement – to live life on the edge
- Entitlement & Reward – to compensate oneself for over-giving
- Shame & Low Self-Esteem – to create a reason to feel successful at something, even if it is a negative action like stealing
- Rebellion & Initiation – to break into one’s authentic identity
For parents raising teenagers, when stealing behavior occurs, two strategies do not tend to work well: “under kill” and “overkill.” Rather, I would suggest that stealing behavior is an invitation for a conversation with your child. Engage your teen in discussion about these deeper motivations as opposed to letting the behavior slide or overreacting to it with guilt and shame. We all like to learn about ourselves and uncover unrealized motivations – teens are no different. Addressing the behavior at this deeper level limits the wrestling match of deception and investigation. Instead, join your child in answering their cry for help by locating the emotional hurt within them, find them help to deal with the causal issues, and help set them free for a lifetime.
Read the list of 30 questions below to determine if your teen needs help. This teen assessment is designed to be a first step and it might be critical for you to discuss the results with a therapist. Please refer to the scoring guide below to see which options are most suitable for your child, based upon the total number of questions that you checked as positive.
1. Does your teen struggle with basic family rules and expectations?
2. Has your teen ever been suspended, expelled, truant or had a drop in school grades?
3. Has your teen ever been verbally abusive?
4. In your opinion, does your teen associate with a bad peer group?
5. Has your teen lost interest in former productive activities, such as hobbies and sports?
6. Do you have difficulty getting your teen to do simple household chores or homework without a major fight?
7. Has your teen had problems with the law?
8. Do you find yourself picking your words carefully when speaking to your teen so as not to elicit a verbal attack or rage from them?
9. Are you worried that your teen may not finish high school?
10. Does your teen, at times, seem depressed and/or withdrawn?
11. Is your teen’s appearance or personal hygiene outside your family standards?
12. Has your teen ever displayed violent behavior?
13. Is your teen manipulative or deceitful?
14. Does your teen seem to lack motivation?
15. Do you suspect that your teen is telling lies or has been dishonest with you?
16. Are you concerned that your teen may be sexually promiscuous?
17. Have you seen any evidence of suicidal thoughts, such as statements that your teen wanted to be dead, etc?
18. Do you suspect that you have had money or other valuables missing from your home?
19. Are you concerned that your teen’s behavior is a threat to his safety and well-being?
20. Does your teen seem to lack self-esteem and self-worth?
21. Do you have a lack of trust with your teen?
22. Is your teen angry or displaying temper outbursts?
23. Does your teen have problems with authority?
24. Does your teen engage in activities you don’t approve of?
25. Do you think your teen is using or experimenting with drugs and/or alcohol?
26. Are you concerned about your teen’s well-being and future?
27. Does your teen seem to be in constant opposition to your family values?
28. No matter what rules and consequences are established, does your teen defy them?
29. Are you exhausted and worn out from your teen’s defiant or destructive behaviors and choices?
30. When dealing with your teen, do you often feel that you are powerless?
Your Total Score is: _______
18+ Checks = HIGH RISK!
– Get help! – Find a residential facility that you feel comfortable with.
9-17 Checks = BORDERLINE RISK
– The problems may be resolved by tightening up the Family Rules and Structure. However, a residential treatment facility may need to be considered if things don’t improve or if the situation worsens.
Up to 8 Checks = MODERATE RISK
– Tighten up family rules and be consistent with your monitoring. It is critical that you follow through. When you say something will happen, your teen must see it happen!
Please call if you have any questions regarding this teen assessment. We would love to visit with you and discuss these questions in greater depth if you have concerns. (800) 584 5005