In this lesson we are going to explore stealing. In it you will learn:

  • Five reasons why your teenager may be stealing
  • The root cause of why anyone starts to steal
  • A step-by-step process of how to turn the situation around
  • The importance of changing the situation around sooner than later

Take A Moment

Did you ever steal? Did you have friends who stole? Think back to when you were a teenager and ask yourself, “Why would I or my friends steal?”


If you have found out that your teenager is stealing, the first thing you need to do is understand why they’re stealing. Each reason will require a different approach when it comes time to speak with them about this. When speaking with them, make sure you do not come from a judgmental place or use fear as a way to try and get them to stop. Unless he or she is an outright criminal (which would require a different approach) keep the conversation calm and centered. Fear and guilt will only send them in a more negative direction because when someone starts to steal, it’s usually a cry for help.

Below is a list of the top five reasons why most (not all) teenagers steal.

1. Fear Of Lack

Reason: Most people who steal will fall under this category and it’s the simplest reason. Because of the way that society is structured with money, if a person comes from a poverty-stricken background where they feel like they cannot make money on their own, or have access to it, they will steal. Chances are they probably don’t want to steal but they just believe that there is no other way for them to get what they want.

Solution: First, you must reassure your teenager that there is plenty to go around and that they do not need to steal to get what they want. Even if you come from an environment that does not have a lot of money, you can still teach your teen that there is enough for everyone.

Second, ask your teenager this question: “How would you like it if someone stole your things?” You need to make sure they know what it would feel like if it happened to them. If it’s already happened, just remind them about how they felt at that time.

Third, help them find a way they can make some extra money. Once they’re paid for doing a job well done, they won’t feel the need to steal. If they’re really young, there are still ways they can try and make some money on their own. This will require you to be creative in how you help them find their way. Just look at little kids who would build lemonade stands, wash cars, and so on. Your teenager needs to find creative ways they can make some money so they won’t feel the need to steal.

2. Filling A Void

Reason: Some people steal because they’re filling a void in their life. They may be sad, lost, or depressed and while most people eat or do drugs to fill that void, some will actually steal to fill it.

Solution: You need to help them feel better about themselves and their life. They will first need to deal with their emotions and once they do, they can start creating a new life where they will feel better about themselves.

*Please see module called “Depression” to learn more.

3. Attention

Reason: People who steal for attention are generally ones who want to be caught. Because this is a cry for help, they’re seeking attention. If you recall when the famous actress Winona Ryder (who has money) was caught stealing, she admitted that she had a problem and was seeking attention.

Solution: You need to give your teenager more attention when they do positive things in their life. Try and help them discover other things that they’re good at and when they do those things, praise them and love them to death. Once they see that they can get attention for things they’re good at and that are healthy for them, they wont seek negative ways to get attention.

4. The Thrill & Rush

Reason: Stealing gives people a sense of excitement and a rush. Because there is a risk of getting caught, those who do it for this reason are adrenaline junkies. Just like people who jump out of airplanes, business men who seek to close a deal, card players looking to win the next hand and so on, these people become addicted to the thrill of the rush.

Solution: Help your teenager find something else that brings them excitement. If they’re stealing because they want the thrill, it’s because nothing else in their life is bringing them any joy or excitement. Help them find something more constructive that brings them this thrill and you will see that they will stop stealing.

5. It’s A Game

Reason: Some people who steal just love the game of it. It’s like a puzzle they want to solve. It becomes a way for them to engage their mind so they can “solve the puzzle”. Most of these people who do the stealing for this reason rarely ever care about what it is they’re stealing. They’re just looking for the challenge.

Solution: Help them find something else that is constructive and challenging.

Repeating Myself

I know it may sound as if I’m just repeating myself because, well, I am! It amazes me that society has taken such simple issues and turned them into such complex problems. Everything comes down to pleasure and pain. If your child is stealing, it’s because they believe this is the easiest way for them to experience pleasure. This is why you need to replace the negative behavior, stealing, with something else that brings them pleasure and is positive and constructive. This way they will associate that behavior with being more pleasurable.

Need some inspiration?

Check out this guide to inspirational quotes and affirmations that will help uplift your spirits.


Sergio & His Mom

Dear Parent,

I am on a mission to help heal this planet because I truly believe that so much of the trauma and drama our society endures stems from the fact that as youth we did not learn how to address our emotions, solve our problems, and discover our authentic selves. If you find any of this material beneficial, please support this school and our message by taking the following actions below.


– Sergio Diazgranados

  • If you have not done so already, make sure you have taken our FREE foundation program The Neutral Parenting Formula: A Blueprint For Raising Successful Teenagers that will really help you get the most from this lesson because some of the concepts discussed here may not make as much sense. You can access it here for FREE through the end of 2012. Afterwards the program will cost $997.
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