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What's yours should be mine to use." Parents are well-advised to confront this supposedly permissible appropriation early, before it leads to outright theft.

In the same way, they need to confront shoplifting, another common form of limit testing in early adolescence, when young people take from a store to see what they can get away with.

Although a common family response to adolescent theft is for members to keep closer personal track of their ready cash and to keep it more personally secured, these parents did just the opposite. Each night there would be a family meeting at which members would give the thief among them all their loose bills and coins.He had to carefully count out each amount to each person's satisfaction.Everyone was committing their money to him for safekeeping overnight. The parents' answer: "Until we all agree that we have got our sense of trust and safety back." It took a little over a month, and according to the parents the adolescent never stole from any of them again.By age 3 or 4, most children have been taught the possessive distinction between what is "mine" and what is "yours." Connected to this understanding is the injunction not to cross that boundary without consent.That is, when desiring to use what is somebody else's, one must ask for, and receive, authorization first.