My daughter has been lying and stealing from us as well as someone she called her BFF. We give her consequences and she continues with her stealing and lying. Recently I found out that she was cutting and I am so very scared for her and don't know what to do.

I am trying to get her into a counselor but they don't take my insurance. I know she loves me but lately it seems as though it's a big struggle to keep her on the straight and narrow and she is in danger of being held back in school.

Right now her punishment of grounding doesn't even seem to be working and she is up to 2.5 months grounding from different offenses, it's like she doesn't care!! What can my husband and I do to turn this all around?

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    2.5 months of grounding is a hopeless punishment. Removing a cell phone for 25 minites will have the same effect as removig the phone for a day.
    – DanBeale
    Commented May 1, 2014 at 13:59
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    Amen to that - speaking from recent experience as a 21-year-old, my computer I think is technically STILL completely off-limits to me, and it didn't matter as soon as it hit about two weeks, even though it escalated rather slowly and I've been 'grounded from the computer' since age 13 pretty much entirely. Commented May 3, 2014 at 3:17
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    By "cutting", do you mean "cutting class" or "cutting herself" or something else? Commented Oct 8, 2014 at 12:36
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    @DaveClarke "cutting" in this context generally means self-harm. That's very serious. Commented Oct 8, 2014 at 13:41
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    Act now. Cutting is the serious symptom of major mental health issues. Everything else is secondary. Double-check on the medical insurance. I understood one of the changes to medical insurance under the Affordable Care Act was coverage for mental health just like other health issues. mentalhealth.gov/get-help/health-insurance
    – Marc
    Commented Oct 10, 2014 at 5:20

7 Answers 7


Therapy is the best thing to do in my opinion. Your profile says you are in California, so there are clinics available and if she is suicidal to the point of attempting it, taking her to a hospital is actually the best way to go. (That may sound odd to those not "in the know", but when I was suicidal, that's where I went and they hold you until they take you to the mental health facility to ensure you are safe.)

NOTE FOR NON-UNITED STATES PERSONS: This advice is only relevant in the United States and may vary for your locality.

Grounding for 2.5 months might as well be 2.5 years... after a certain amount of time, it all seems like forever.

Kudos for trying everything you can think of and seeking other means without trying some of the less productive methods.

I know for myself and my daughter that going to a therapist is quite expensive and the therapist doesn't take any form of insurance, so it can be a true challenge. Fortunately, those clinics do exist and my experience is that contacting the local authorities for advice is a good place to start because they will move you to the department best suited for your situation.

I wish you and your family the best!

  • +1. People can also look for help by calling the Crisis intervention hotline, or getting in touch with a Crisis intervention counselor through regular channels. If someone is not actively suicidal, the Emergency Department will get in touch with a crisis counselor for you rather than hold to place. Commented Jul 9, 2015 at 2:41

In addition to some of the good ideas already offered it occurs to me that there could be something wrong or damaging going on in her life that is not visible to you.

In any case, if there is something that she is unable to deal with and unable to share there will be no amount of grounding and punishment that will make things better. Perhaps switch things up a bit and look for positive things to notice and at least praise? It may be hard to reward good behaviors while these types of things are going on but praising other things won't condone bad behavior.

Perhaps it would be worth taking a week off and spending some quality time together, perhaps away from home, to see if you could both let go of recent strife and get some real insight into what is going on. Without knowing the age there could be issues with self-esteem, teasing, bullying, drugs, boys, inappropriate behavior from an authority figure, parents divorced or focused on work, betrayal, blackmail - who knows.

Admittedly, I have an active imagination and can worry more than I should, but if it is nothing but a phase it won't hurt to consider and rule out other more harmful issues.


In addition to the other answers I want to recommend you to get counseling for yourself and your husband too. As a person with mental issues I experienced that my problems were hard to accept/understand for my mother and the people around me. They didn't know how to handle me and they hurt me without noticing (and how could they know). The problem is that things that are perfectly normal for other people can be pretty hard to impossible when you have problems with your mental health. For the people around you it can be hard to understand why you can't do these "normal" things.

There is not always a definite reason or problem you can just solve so I can imagine you experience some helplessness in some degree. Thats ok, thats what counseling is for. You and your daughter need both learn to handle these problems. It is important that you show her that you give your best to understand her. Don't punish her but try to help her reflect what she did and why. And don't be disappointed if she doesn't want to speak to you about her problems but try to provide her someone she can trust. It can be very hard to speak to people dear to you about your problems, because you don't want to dissapoint or are scared of rejection.

Please note that the problems your daughter experiences don't have to be rational at all. But even if they are not rational they are as scary and troubling as if they were. If this is the case you still should take them seriously, because for your daughter they are real.

All in all I wish you the best.


Making our teen daughter watch documentaries showcasing other peoples hardship, tragedies and/or lifestyle helped my daughter stop cutting. Also I was able to share my experiences with attempted suicide. This seemed to also be important. They need to see a larger world than the one they get from American pop culture. "On the way to School" is a good one to start with and can be found on Netflix. There are many others, and if your child has any capacity for sympathy and empathy, they will hopefully help them find a new thought process. We also strongly promote family values, engagement and responsibility. Try these things whether you are having issues or not.


Well this kind problems are most difficult for every parents. But i would insist you to take her out somewhere for few days & spend quality time with her, at the same time make her realize how important is she in your live. If she still behaves in the same manner like now then it is better to force her to see a counsellor to help her to get rid of these tendencies, where she can lead a straighter life.


Instead of grounding her, why not start following her around or have a kid in the neighborhood keeping an eye out what she is really doing when cutting school. Or find a mentor for her someone she can look up too and not share their private conversations with you, because to a kid trust is very important, and when kids can confide in someone in their life and not worry about pressure from parents, can help too. Big Brothers was a big help to my youngest son because no matter what he confided he received a positive response.This helped him to manicure his thinking process. Parents can be too judgemental, critical and overbearing and a kid is less likely to spill the bean's. As for therapy there are free counciling in every community. But the whole magic to counciling is if you want it, and want change, if not counciling is unlikely to take effect. Counciling would also be helpful to the parents as well, so I would suggest all of you man and woman up and go to counciling together. I find in these times kids have less time with parents and vise versa. Having an intervention with people who care will show to this young lady for every action there is a re action, that her choices affect others and it is important to show people do care. Through puberty kids are so confused, trying to get attention, being alone a lot, the thrill or fitting into certain social groups, this is why they steal. As for lying they had to of see it in the home in the first place.

  • "to a kid trust is very important..." Having a kid follow her around the neighborhood is not likely to engender trust.Also, please do not answer a question that wasn't asked (putting her on the pill.) Please have a look at the site tour and visit the help center for guidance on how to use this site. Commented Jul 6, 2015 at 21:40
  • "As for lying they had to of see it in the home in the first place" — that is a pretty presumptuous statement!
    – Acire
    Commented Jul 7, 2015 at 11:01

Take all of her things and throw them is storage.

Admittedly, these sort of lessons work better on much younger kids. A very real way to illustrate that people don't like their stuff taken, is to take all her stuff. You can choose to return it in 2.5 months if her stealing doesn't persist.

Lying is a very difficult problem to solve. The benefit of lying is that it protects you from getting punished sometimes when you have done something wrong, but the authorities cannot verify that you did it. I have never found a good solution to prevent kids from lying to their parents.

As for her cutting and possibly being held back in school, is this a sudden change in her behavior? Perhaps there is a issue that is occurring at school or at home that she isn't telling you about.

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    I feel that taking all the child's possessions long term is is not only extreme, but also unlikely to have the desired effect. Research has shown that increasing the length of a punishment has quickly diminishing returns. Grounding a child for a month will have little or no difference over grounding for a week. Other than that one solution, you provide no other answers, only "I don't know"s and questions (which should be relegated to comments on the question itself).
    – Doc
    Commented May 1, 2014 at 18:23
  • @Doc, I blame the OP for me not having other answers, it is unclear what they are asking. How do I stop my child from stealing, OR How do I stop my child from lying, OR how do I turn this all around (whatever that means). Questions should be seperated. Do you think theraphy, and spending quality time are the correct solutions to stealing, llying, and cutting? Physician heal thyself.
    – user1873
    Commented May 1, 2014 at 20:56
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    Wow, your last comment's sentence is wrong on every level. Therapy is not "thyself", first of all. Second, your implicit assertion is that therapy only addresses one issue at a time... like questions on a forum... which is patently false as therapy often addresses far more than one issue at a time. Commented May 5, 2014 at 4:32
  • @JeremyMiller, it was a joke, a play on the commenter's username. It didn't realize that therapy was the snake oil of the 21st century. Does it cure baldness too?
    – user1873
    Commented May 5, 2014 at 4:50
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    @user1873 Should the time come when therapy can help you or a loved one via the counsel or meds, you may find yourself questioning your own hubris. Commented May 5, 2014 at 4:54

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