If your teen has been lying to you, you may feel powerless and frustrated.
Lying is a habit that can quickly spiral out of control. However, addressing the problem may be quite possible. As a parent, you have more power than you may feel like you do right now.
Here are the five steps you can take that will get your teen to stop lying to you.
1. Check Yourself. Is honesty truly your policy?
If you want your teen to stop lying, make sure that you’re modeling honesty with your friends and family.
Feeling the desire to lie is normal. Changing a lying habit requires a big shift: valuing honesty even when a lie might create short-term happiness. Help your teen to see the benefits of integrity by modeling never taking the “easy” way out with a lie.
Your teen may be lying to you because he or she has seen others lying. Take some time to make observations about the big picture and what is being modeled in your teen’s world.
2. Brace Yourself. Can you handle the truth?
In order for your teen to stop lying, you’ll need to prove that your response to the truth will be logical, understanding, and fair. If you want your teen to stop lying, it needs to be safe to share the truth with you.
If honesty is your policy, when you catch your child in a lie (or especially when he or she admits to a lie) don’t lash out at your teen. Also, don’t ignore the problem. Take reasonable action once you’ve had time to calmly consider your options.
It may take some time to establish the trust on both ends of your relationship. Rather than punishing your teen when he or she makes a mistake, take the opportunity to discuss solutions collaboratively with your teen.
Relying on natural consequences will help your teen to stop lying and start trying. For example, a natural consequence is your trust in your teen being impacted based on your teen’s honesty.
3. Know Your Limits. Does your teen respect them?
If your rules are clear and consistent, lying won’t work. For example, if your policy about being home on time is clear and consistent, no excuse will warrant an exception if your teen is late. A natural consequence would be moving the curfew time earlier until trust is re-established.
You can’t control your teen’s choices, you can only guide them.
For example, if you don’t like a group of friends that he or she has chosen, your teen may lie about seeing these friends. If you try to forbid it, your teen will likely rebel in order to assert independence. If you express your concerns and remain open to your teen’s opinion, you’ll be informed and available to help your teen make decisions should an undesirable situation arise with these friends… and, your teen won’t feel pressured to lie to you. You’ll be able to help your teen learn that he or she is responsible for choices regardless of what other people (these friends) may be doing.
Sometimes self-esteem must improve for a teen to stop lying. When appropriate, involve your teen in the process of deciding rules and limits for going out, using electronics, study time, etc. This will help your teen feel he or she is respected and capable.
Lying isn’t as tempting when your teen is proud of the truth. Consider that your goal isn’t only for your teen to stop lying, but also for him or her to be a more responsible, happy individual. Aiming for that will give you direction when responding to a lying habit.
4. Don’t Blame Yourself. Can you be confident that change will happen?
These steps are focused on your behavior as a parent because that’s what you can control (yourself), not because your teen’s behavior is your fault. There is no such thing as a perfect parent.
If you’re punishing yourself for your child’s mistakes, please stop! Remember that your teen is learning and growing. It will help your teen to stop lying if you stay away from a blaming attitude in general.
Show your determination to build confidence in your teen by setting him or her up to succeed, not to fail. Communicate clear expectations and walk yourself and your teen through the steps of situations that he or she might normally lie about.
You’ll lead your teen toward a better choice now by pointing out good choices made in the past, not the mistakes.
5. Connect Your Teen to Solutions. Is the lying problem already out of hand?
It’s quite possible that your teen feels just as out of control of the lying as you do, even though it may seem that he or she is choosing to lie without a second thought.
If you want your teen to stop lying, he or she may benefit from therapy with a teen specialist. A therapist can help your teen to create new, healthy habits and to understand positive ways of communicating about problems.
Contact me now with any questions about how to help your teen!
Lying may be a symptom of something bigger. Download my free report to better understand and rule out depression: