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Dr. Mark
Dr. Mark, Psychotherapist
Category: Mental Health
Satisfied Customers: 5220
Experience:  Dr. Mark is a PhD in psychology in private practice
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I have a 11 year old step-granddaughter who was caught with valuable diamond rings sh

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I have a 11 year old step-granddaughter who was caught with valuable diamond rings she had stolen both from her grandmother and myself. Her parents attempt to punish her but don't follow through. How should we as grandparents reinforce her bad behavior has to be changed now. My husband had her removed from Crime Watch at her school as he believed it was wrong for her to be a thief yet report on other kids. She knows her actions are felony charges but we chose to not take legal action. What steps should we do next?
Submitted: 5 years ago.
Category: Mental Health
Expert:  Dr. Mark replied 5 years ago.

Hi! I believe I can be of help with this issue.

First, let me say I can imagine how frustrating and worrisome this situation must be for you. You are very right in being concerned about the moral development of your granddaughter reflected in this behavior and her attitude.

And this is actually the key to my answer to you that you need to consider and think about. I am as much concerned with the very revealing statement that her parents have a problem following through with consequences as I am with her felony. Why?

Because I've seen enough of teenagers to know that teenagers, especially if they are bright kids, need consistency and follow through. Without it, they tend to test more and more what they can get away with, especially if they are bright. Their moral compass becomes skewed. Because kids often judge how the world works based on their relationships and parents are perhaps THE most important element in this.

So, if you have a good working relationship with her grandmother, I'd like you both to read my answer together and see if you can bolster each other in helping her parents begin to correct this problem before their daughter becomes an uncontrollable teenager. Because this happens so often.

I'm going to recommend that they get professional help in this. Why?

Because their daughter has taken this to a level that indicates she is having serious problems integrating her desires, impulsivity, values, and loyalty (to grandparents) in a healthy way. This is not just a small problem.

They need to get a referral to an experienced child psychologist (from her doctor, school, or a clergyman) who is good at working with families. There might be family sessions indicated but perhaps more importantly, the two parents will need to have sessions with her psychologist to learn parenting techniques for dealing with the problems of consistency but also of her impulsivity here. There may also be other problems she is facing that need evaluation and treatment.

It is important that they interview the psychologist and feel confident in him/her. One thing to look for is if the office has a kid friendly area, someplace that a kid can feel comfortable sitting in and playing in if she were a bit younger.

Okay. So this is what you have to do here because you cannot address this directly as the grandparents. Your influence is limited. And as hard as you come down on her, if her parents do not know how to handle her all the harsh talk will only reinforce her sense of life being something you get away with when you want something. So, hopefully the two of you can get the parents to address this head on soon.

I wish you the very best!

Please remember to click the green accept button. Feel free to continue the discussion; my goal is to get you the best answers possible. Bonuses are always appreciated! If I can be of further help with any issue, just put "for Dr. Mark" in the front of your new question, and I'll be the one to answer it. All the best, XXXXX XXXXX

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