One problem that will be faced by all parents at one point or another is the tendency for teenagers to lie. This can be a very difficult time in your relationship with your children, but it is not necessarily a reflection on your parenting techniques. There are several methods for how to deal with lying teenagers.
Stay One Step Ahead
An important aspect of how to deal with lying teenagers lies in your ability to stay ahead of the game. What this involves is:
- Keeping in touch with your teenagers so that you can stop bad behavior before it occurs rather than grounding them afterwards – children are no inclined to automatically disobey their parents no matter what you may think.
- Keep an open relationship in tact so that your child will feel that they can go to you even when they have done something wrong – this negates the need for lies from your child in the first place.
- Know who your child is friends with and where he or she is going at all times.
Open The Door To Discussion
Instead of lecturing your teenager it is better to have an open discussion with them, if they are willing to participate. What this involves is getting to the bottom of the lie and determining what exactly the route cause is. Instead of a long and boring sermon that will cause your child to react with hostility you can treat them as an equal. However it is important that you calmly express your disappointment in them regarding the lie that they have told. If you get angry with them, they are likely to get angry back, but disappointment expressed in a manner that emphasizes warmth and caring will have a long lasting impact that may even stop your teen form telling that particular type of lie again.
Be A Good Role Model
This entails not being caught in a lie yourself. This has two aspects:
- You should not break a promise or allow your children to discover that you have lied (the best way to avoid this is by never lying in the first place; a tall order, but the least you can do is try).
- Equally important is that you should never tell your child that you stretched the truth – this is a phrase that people use when they want to justify lying and will encourage similar truth stretching in your child.
You have to make it clear to your teen that lying is unacceptable, but at the same time you need to accept that there will be times when they’ll lie anyway.
Give Them Another Way To Be Independent
Teenagers are almost obsessed with the idea of being allowed to be independent. You can use this to your advantage as a parent. As they grow up allow them to have increased control over smaller decisions in their lives. This will give them an understanding of responsibility and the fact that you are in control of your own actions. This means that, when they lie to you, you have the higher ground and you can take the moral stand against them. You will do this by making it clear that, just as they are responsible for making decisions in other matters, they are responsible for the decision to lie and must therefore follow through with the consequences.
Emphasize The Harm of Lying
The harm of lying occurs at many levels:
- Firstly the lie causes immediate consequences for your teenager, something that you must stress in order to prevent the lie from occurring again.
- In addition to this the lie harms others, especially those who have trusted the teenager up until that point in time. Drawing your child’s attention to who may have been hurt, including yourself, is essential and you may need to work quite hard to impress the extent of the harm in this regard.
- Thirdly the lie will consequences for the teenager that are more far reaching than the immediate punishment. For one thing it will make you and others wonder whether or not the child has lied in the past. You can impress his on the child by referring to past events where you trusted the teenager but in which you think they may now have been lying. In addition to this it will also undermine your future relationship with your child. Make it clear that it will be some time before you will trust them in a situation like that again and that the decreased freedom they will be made to experience as a result will be their own fault and not yours.
Emphasize The Consequences Of Lying
There have to be consequences that your child must face when he or she lies to you. On the other hand you must, to a certain degree, acknowledge truth telling, especially in circumstances where the teenager knows that telling the truth will result in punishment. One thing that you can do is to punish your child for wrongdoing if they do something, but are truthful to you about what they have done. If however they do something wrong and then lie about in addition to the initial crime, the punishment must then be doubled. You also need to emphasize the fact that increase in the punishment is based on the lie. Tell them as well that it is highly unlikely that a lie will protect them from punishment as in the long run you will always find out what they have done, whether it is form their own lips or from someone else. When it comes to consequences it is important that the punishment fits the crime and that it cannot be deemed to be an unfair reaction to the misdemeanor. To a certain degree you should negotiate punishments with children for lying. However these discussions and negotiations should occur at a neutral point in your relationship so that everyone can be objective about the decisions.
Emphasize That “Stretching The Truth” Is As Bad As Lying
Teenagers often consider themselves very clever when they stretch the truth in order to deceive you because they feel that, because this method does not involve an outright lie, they cannot be punished for lying. This is something that needs to be discussed with your child. Let’s take an example situation to demonstrate this point:
- You ask your child if one of their friends visited. You do not approve of this friend and would prefer if he did not come around. Your child is aware of your feelings on the matter.
- In response to this questions your child says “No one was here this evening”. They are avoiding mentioning the friend by name. In addition you do not know what definition of “this evening” they are using. Perhaps their friend came after, for example 7pm, which the teenager no longer consider to be evening. Hence they have deceived you.
Although it is difficult not to admire the cunning that it takes to deceive you in such a way, you need to establish a rule as early as possible that stretching the truth is the same as lying because it involves a degree of deception and, in addition, your teenager will be made to face the exact same consequences as they would normally have to face when caught in a lie.
Honest behavior occurs more frequently than dishonest behavior; we just do not notice it because we take it for granted. You need to be aware of when your child or teenager is honest and reward them for it. This does not mean buying them expensive gifts or giving them money or other privileges. What it does mean is giving them verbal praise for telling the truth. This indicates a general understanding in your household that honesty is valued and that it is seen in a positive light. Reduced punishments for being honest about doing something wrong may also be appropriate in certain situations.
Summary Of Tips On How To Deal With Lying Teenagers
According to another website you need to do the following in order to deal with your teenager’s lying tendencies:
- Don’t tell lies. This is easier said than done, admittedly, but your teenagers are old enough to have realized that no one can be expected to be perfect and consequently you will slip up every once in a while. It is the effort to avoid lie telling that will be more beneficial than successfully avoiding lies altogether.
- Be a good role model.
- Work to foster an open, honest relationship at home early on.
- Ask specific questions and demand specific answers.
- Don’t give your kids the chance to lie.
- Make them check in with you before they leave the house for school.
- Make it a house rule that they call you if they’re going to be late or are going to a new location. This will set the standard for openness and honesty. It is a very small thing for them to do and it will not take long. Appropriate punishments should be administered when this is not done, or if they lie about the information. In addition you need to encourage truth telling even if they are going somewhere you do not approve of and simply inform them to call you if they need help as well as giving them a directive that you will go and fetch them form that location if they are not home by the set time.
Taking Action When A Teen Lies
Remember that you do not need evidence when confronting your teenager with a lie. All you need is conviction that you were lied to. Often parents can tell when their teenager has been lying even when they do not know what the lie is about. Determine the nature of the lie. You will need to make it clear that the child will be in trouble, but that the trouble will be less severe if they come clean now than if you have to find out through some other means what the lie is. The severity of the lie will also impact the actual punishment that you administer.
You need to break the habit of lying as early as possible, which can be difficult when it comes to teenagers because they are so often unwilling to listen to what you have to say. Indicate that you are often more hurt by the lie than about the transgression that is being lied about, and that takes it to a whole other level. Expressing disappointment will be useful here.
If the lie is about some kind of dangerous behavior your child is involved in you need to seek additional intervention in addition to speaking with them about the lying behavior. Drugs, for example, would be an example of dangerous behavior your teenager will probably lie about. While at all times demonstrating that you love and care for your child, you will need to seek professional help from an external source in this regard.
You need to communicate to your child that you understand that they want independence and that sometimes this seems to involve the need to lie. Create an atmosphere where lies are not necessary and independence can be openly negotiated.
These tips are easy to write about and read about, but they will not be easy to put into practice unless you:
- stick to them no matter what and are motivated to achieve the end goal, and
- you are able to maintain your self control and not get angry when faced with a lie from your teenager
It will not be easy to get through this section of your parenting career, but if done right your goals will be achieved and your children will thank you later in life. These tips on how to deal with lying teenagers are just the start of a long process of rebuilding your relationship.