Cheating is often grounds for suspension from school.

What Should Parents Do When a Teen Gets Caught Cheating at School?

by Eliza Martinez

No parent wants to find out her teen was caught cheating. However, if you've received that information, your reaction and subsequent discipline is a defining factor in stopping cheating behavior from happening again. Cheating is fairly common, with 70 percent of teens reporting that they've cheated, according to Lawrence Kutner, author of "Your School-Age Child," on the Family Education website. Despite this, it's vital for parents to put a stop to it right away.

1. The School's Punishment

If caught cheating, chances are your teen's school enforces its own set of consequences. It's important to support the teacher or principal's decision when it comes to disciplining your teen. Whether this means taking a failing grade for the test or assignment or a suspension, you should go along with it. If you put up a fight or criticize the punishment, you give your teen the message that cheating isn't that big of a deal. Making sure your teen follows through with the consequences lets her know that you and her school are on the same page and that neither of you tolerates cheating.

2. Take a Time Out

Finding out your teen is cheating can cause several emotions for parents. You might be angry, confused, sad or scared when you get the news. It's never a good idea to respond to the situation until you have the chance to pull yourself together. Take some time to collect your emotions and think through what you're going to do, suggests therapist Jeremy Schneider on the School Family website. Examine the situation, consider your options and try to stay calm before you approach your teen about cheating. This might require hours or even a day or two. Let your teen know that you need some time before you discuss the issue.

3. Talk to Your Child

Talking with your teen is an important step in dealing with cheating. Before handing down a consequence, have a talk with your child. Tell your teen that cheating is unacceptable and you won't tolerate it. Next, allow him to state his case, suggests the Family Education website. Maybe he's over scheduled or afraid of a failing grade being visible to colleges. This provides you with the understanding you need to help prevent cheating from happening again. Discuss these issues and come to a conclusion about how to cut back or get him some extra homework help. Emphasize honesty and ask your teen to come to you next time he's struggling.

4. Appropriate Discipline

Appropriate discipline for cheating helps ensure that it doesn't happen again and gives your teen the message that you won't allow it. The right punishment varies among teens, but some common ideas can help discourage it. Removing privileges, such as missing a school dance or losing his laptop for a couple of weeks, are often effective for teens who place a high value on their social lives. Supervising homework time and checking assignments is one way to keep your teen from cheating at school the next day, but probably isn't something he'll enjoy. This makes it ideal for keeping your teen from cheating again.

About the Author

Eliza Martinez has written for print and online publications. She covers a variety of topics, including parenting, nutrition, mental health, gardening, food and crafts. Martinez holds a master's degree in psychology.

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