When Your Teens Lie
How to know when your teens lie? The art of lying is part and parcel of a child’s development years. By the age of three, children begin to experiment with lying. Younger children usually confuse lying with their fantasies and imaginations with no real intention of being dishonest or causing harm.
As children enter adolescence, their lies may get more refined. At this stage, it is still entirely normal for children to experiment with lying. Every child lies at one point or another. As your children become teenagers, they start to value their privacy. They want to create their own space for growth, both physically and mentally. They may interpret your concerns as your inability to trust them. Sometimes, they may feel as though you are infringing on their personal space! When children perceive that their parents are not respecting their need for privacy, they may lie by both commission (deliberately telling an untruth) and omission (voluntarily not disclosing all the details).
There are various reasons for teenagers to lie. The most common is to gain moderate freedom or privacy in their lives. Sometimes, they may also lie to protect their siblings and/or friends from certain unpleasant consequences. Of course, parents still worry that their children lie to do forbidden activities or to get out of trouble. Nonetheless, these are, in fact, lower in priority for most teens.
No matter what the reason for lying is, parents can apply the following ideas to encourage their teens to tell the truth.
1 – Set the ground rules
Gather everyone for a meeting to discuss and set the ground rules as a family. The rules are not only meant for the children, but also for the parents. Include lying as a serious offence within the family, and discuss the various consequences that one needs to accept when they are caught lying. Encourage your teenagers to voice their opinions and respect their views when setting the rules. You may be the one who sets the rules but listens and try to incorporate their suggestions.
2 – Share your feelings
Teenagers may lie to protect their friends’ or siblings’ feelings. When you catch your teenager lying to you, express how this has made you feel. Tell them how upset or disappointed you are to know that they lied to you. It brings out the “comradeship” and makes you more like a friend than a parent. Once your teens understand the hurt and pain, they will think twice when considering lying in the future.
3 – Explain the cost of teen lies and how it affects relationships
The cost of lying is high, but your children may not realise it yet. As a parent, the best time to explain the high price of lying is when you catch them in the act. You can point out the impact of lying on relationships and emphasise that lying breaks trust. Highlight the fact that people who are lied to may not want to trust them again in the future.
4 – Understand the motivation for lying
Find out the purpose of the lie. Most teenagers lie because they want more privacy or space. Consider creating a communication channel in which you ask your child what they need and try to provide this environment for them. If they would like you to stop asking them about the contents of their conversations with their friends, accept this and do your best to keep that promise.
5 – Be consistent with your pre-agreed consequences
Parents need to be consistent with any pre-agreed consequences that the family agreed on. The implications of lying can be a household chore that your teenager hates to do or any other pre-agreed ideas. Following through with the consequences allows for closure. It also acts as a reminder for your child to stop lying in the future.
6 – Establish open communication
Be open and approachable with your teens and ensure you have two-way communication in your relationship. Tell your teenagers that you expect honesty when they engage in activities that could potentially put their health, safety, or futures at risk. You must know of activities such as driving without a license, alcohol, sex, drugs, ditching classes, and other high-risk activities. In return, do respect their privacy for small things, such as their conversation with friends. The vital message to get across to your teens is that they have nothing to be worried about when they choose you as their confidant. Let them know that you trust them to do what’s right, and to call you when they need help.
Please remember that every child is different. You know your child best and hence, choose the right battle at home. If you want to prevent your son from becoming a Pinocchio, try to speak to your teenager with love and respect, and they are likely to respond positively.
We hope this article has been of interest to you to improve your healthy relationship with your children. You can continue reading similar articles on our blog.