Let’s be honest. We all lie. And not once, but hundreds of times in our lives. Maybe to escape from punishment or not hurt other people’s feelings. So, lies are part of our life and will continue to be until the day we die.
However, there are lies that can’t be tolerated. Like those that conceal serious offenses, drug or alcohol abuse, criminal conduct or self inflicted harm. And teenagers are more prone to lie about such things.
Therefore, when teenagers lie, there’s always a reason to be worried, especially when you’re a parent. You must gain the trust of your children and be open to discuss uncomfortable matters, if you don’t want your children to lie to you.
Certainly, no one is born to be a parent. Neither, there’s an instruction manual that tells you how to do it right. However, listening to the advice of other experienced parents can be a great help.
In this article you’ll learn what to do when your teenager lies and how to establish healthy relationships between parents and children based on love and trust.
Is it good to lie?
It’s true that telling lies isn’t an ethical behavior, especially in the labor or business field. However, lying is a common habit of human beings. In fact, we all lie since we were children.
Below, you’ll find the different reasons why adults, teenagers and children often tell lies:
Reasons why adults lie
According to a recent study, young adults lie at least once for every five social interactions. Usually, adults lie to:
- Not offend or worry other people.
- Hide love relationships.
- Presume their achievements and talents.
Reasons why children lie
On the other hand, children lie for more innocent reasons. For example:
- To escape from the punishment of mom and dad.
- To be approved by other children.
In certain way, if a child knows how to lie, it’s a positive thing. Why? Because it shows that the child:
- Is aware of the consequences of his/her actions.
- Understands well what other people think.
- Can inhibit his/her ability to tell the truth.
- Can come up with an alternative version of the real events.
Things become bad when the child becomes a compulsive liar and isn’t able to differentiate between reality and his/her own lies. So, parents should pay close attention to the behavior of their young children.
Why do teenagers lie?
Certainly, teenage lying statistics are high. For example, researchers form Penn State University concluded that 96% of teenagers tell lies. And maybe, the remaining 4% who claimed not to lie was also lying.
Teenagers tend to say more lies than both children and adults. Apparently, the changes that the brain undergoes during adolescence and the desire for independence are the main triggers of lies in adolescents. Unlike children, when a teenager lies, there’s always a reason to be worried.
Usually, teenagers lie to:
- Free themselves from the authority of their parents.
- Appear that they’re mature enough.
- Hide their true feelings.
- Be loyal to a friend.
- Hide the use of cigarettes, alcohol or drugs.
- Not feel ashamed.
- Hide a love relationship.
- Escape from punishment.
- Do something illegal.
- Hide their academic performance.
- Not hurt someone else’s feelings.
- Protect personal privacy.
Basic types of teen lies
As you can see, teenagers lie for many reasons. However, all these lies can be grouped into three main types. These are:
Lies by commission
It’s the most common type of lie. It consists of giving false testimonies based on completely fictitious facts. The liar tries to convince others by exposing an altered version of reality. This type of lie seriously affects the relationships between parents and children.
Lies by omission
When someone makes a statement and omits important details in the story, is lying by omission. Teenagers usually omit details that may compromise or embarrass them.
However, omitting unimportant details in a statement isn’t considered a lie.
Lies by avoidance
It’s a strategy commonly used by teenagers to not reveal information about an important issue. The teenager raises another topic of conversation or evades their parents’ questions.
What parents must do when their teenagers lie
Many parents don’t know how to react properly when they discover that their children were lying to them. Some simply explode in rage and apply severe punishment. But, this kind of behavior will only make things worse.
The teenager will feel misunderstood and will estrange even more. Knowing how their parents react to uncomfortable truths, the teenager will certainly decide to tell lies to escape from the unpleasant consequences.
If you don’t consider yourself the most patient and open father in the world, you must change your attitude before it’s too late. Here you’ll find a list of useful tips to know what to do when your teenager lies.
1. Control the anger
You must be aware of this. If you’re a father, your children will make you angry many times. The way you react to difficult situations can significantly affect the emotional health of your children.
So, raising your voice or insulting won’t help to get things better. So, before discussing the issue, take some time to reflect and handle your anger levels. Go for a walk, take a deep breath, count to 10 or have happy thoughts. Do whatever it takes to calm down.
When you feel better, choose a convenient time for you and your child to speak alone. Pay attention to every word he/she says. Show how interested you are and don’t give any opinion without first knowing all the facts.
Also, show love and create an emotional atmosphere where your children feel comfortable. That way, you’ll gain their trust and they won’t have to lie to you again.
2. Don’t take things personally
Many parents tend to be easily offended and think that a lie from their children is a personal attack against them. If that’s your case, don’t think that way. Usually, teens lie to not disappoint their parents or hurt their feelings.
So, looking at things from a positive point of view will help you maintain a good relationship with your children.
3. Know well why your children lie
Many parents worry more about a lie from their children than the real reason behind the lie. However, the reason of lies can give you several important clues about the problems the teenager is dealing with.
For example, if your 19 year old son is lying about whereabouts, he may be visiting a place not appropriate for his age. But, don’t think about the worst. He may have a new relationship and feel ashamed to talk about it.
4. Don’t be too strict
Children raised in too strict homes tend to tell more lies. Why? Because they’re afraid of an out-of-proportion discipline. Controlling parents tend to apply too severe punishments to their children. Even for minor things.
In these cases, teenagers will always prefer to lie rather than face the consequences of their actions. Therefore, if you want to get your kid to stop lying, be more compassionate and apply discipline fairly.
5. Stay away from traps
Some parents put traps to their children to prove they were lying all the time. Others interrogate their children, already knowing what they’ve done. However, if you do this to your children, you wouldn’t be acting as a responsible parent, but as a judge and executor.
You would be giving your children the same treatment that police officers give to criminals. Instead of earning their trust, they’ll feel betrayed and will no longer trust you.
6. Don’t use the “liar” word
Some parents don’t know how much they hurt their children when they call them a “liar.” Calling a child “liar” repeatedly could affect him/her psychologically, reaching to the point of accepting this adjective as an important facet of his/her personality.
So, next time you deal with a child that lies, never call them a “liar.”
7. Being honest is important
Every responsible parent teaches their children the high value of honesty. Having a couple of talks about honesty isn’t enough to make them understand the point. It seems that teenagers tend to easily forget what their parents taught them as children. That’s why they tend to make bad decisions so easily.
So, it’s convenient that you remind them again and again that:
- • Lies cause pain in other people. Teach them to empathize, asking them how they would feel if someone lied to them. Tell them that lying is like betraying someone else’s trust. The person who lies becomes less trustworthy.
- • Lies make things more difficult. Teach them that telling a lie will lead them to say many more. People who tell too many lies to hide the truth have no peace of mind, because they’ll always be afraid of being discovered.
- • Lies separate parents and children. Above all, show them how lies separate people and can affect emotional ties between parents and children. If your children really love you, they’ll certainly understand the message.
8. Be a role model
Your children are attentive to everything you do and say. Therefore, asking your children to be honest isn’t enough. You must be the best example. So, lying to other people in the presence of your children is the worst thing you can do.
Don’t limit yourself to being honest only when your children watch you. Go beyond and stop lying.
9. Be patient
Adolescent compulsive lying isn’t a problem without a solution. But it won’t be solved overnight. Maybe, it will take years for your children to learn that lying isn’t the best way to escape from problems. Therefore, never give up and be patient. Sooner or later, all your efforts will give good results.
10. Be more than a parent
Teenagers who have good relationships with their parents are less likely to lie and get involved in alcohol or drug problems. Therefore, more than a parent, be a friend to your children. Be that person they can trust unconditionally. Make them feel safe and loved. Never resort to manipulation.
Be interested in what is important to them and be present in every important moment of their lives. If you do this, it will be more difficult for your children to deviate from the right path.