What was the last lie that you told? It’s rare that any of us can say we haven’t ever told a lie, whether to spare someone’s feelings or for another reason. Lying is a part of human nature but it can also potentially be destructive for relationships and in some cases can put teens in a situation that’s less than safe. Have you caught your teen out in a few lies lately? Do you understand why he has started lying to you?
With an understanding of why teens lie, you’ll be in a better position to help your teen learn how to focus on honesty.
Why do teens lie?
When toddlers are learning more about the world around them, they start to pick up on the fact that if they deny something they can potentially get out of trouble and avoid consequences for the behaviors or actions that they know to be wrong. It’s up to parents to recognize and correct the behavior as soon as they are able, with the knowledge that not all lies are going to be told in order to be manipulative or malicious. The lies may become less of a concern as your toddler grows up, but research has demonstrated that children begin to pick up the lies and deceptive behavior as they enter their teen years – for a variety of reasons.
- Teens may be straying from the truth to get more privacy from their parents.
- Some teens may tell lies so that they can stay out past curfew or go places their parents don’t approve of.
- Lies may be told to avoid getting into trouble or to keep a sibling or friend from getting into trouble.
- Your teen may also lie to protect himself when he is struggling with his emotions or mental health. He may not know how to express himself honestly so he instead lies and tells you that he is fine.
Before you react with frustration or anger when you catch your teen out in a lie, consider if there may be an underlying reason for your once-honest teen to now be taking a turn for untruths.
The consequences of telling lies
Even the smallest of lies can have the potential to lead to extreme consequences and relationship problems. Your teen may not yet recognize this, but as he matures and moves into adulthood, he will soon find that dishonesty is rarely appreciated by his family and friends. It can even have a negative impact on his education and his future career.
Here are a few important consequences of telling lies that your teen should be aware of.
- Your teen’s reputation will soon tank in the eyes of his friends, teachers, coaches, and even his family, who love him without condition. People don’t like to be lied to, and once they know they have been told a lie, it can be hard to rebuild that trust.
- It can be hard to keep up with lies, which can lead to the need to tell more lies and engage in even more deceptive behavior. This can make it difficult to keep up with the truth in all aspects of your teen’s life.
- It’s not a stretch to see dishonesty leading to other negative behaviors, such as stealing and cheating. If your teen realizes that he’s been able to get away with certain lies, he may think he can continue getting away with other things.
- Telling multiple lies and constantly fearing being caught out can lead to high stress and anxiety levels. Your teen’s mental health struggles may worsen as he realizes that the lies don’t allow him to connect honestly and truthfully with his friends and family.
No one likes to be lied to, this much is true. But telling the lies can become just as much of an issue if allowed to continue. Another concern is that if your teen’s lying behavior is not addressed and helped, he may continue to think he can avoid consequences by lying. It can certainly lead to him thinking he can get away with cheating on a test or stealing something from a friend, but it can also result in losing some of his closest relationships that cannot be salvaged.
How can you help focus on honesty?
The answer to this question may be easier than you think it is. You can begin by modeling honest behavior to your teen. We’re all guilty at times of telling what we coin “little white lies” for a range of reasons. But even these untruths can be upsetting, frustrating, and even potentially harm your relationship with the people you’re telling them to. This goes beyond telling your children about Santa or the Easter bunny. It’s those fibs that relate to your home life, your relationships with the other members of the family, or other things that they’d find important and relevant, such as the loss of a pet or family member.
- Have a conversation with your teen about the importance of being honest. Let him know where you may have told him less than truthful things. Your teen may be confused or upset but will ultimately appreciate that you are being open and honest with him.
- Ask your teen if there is anything that he wants to speak with you about openly and honestly.
- Speak with your teen to find out if there is a reason that he feels like he needs to lie or hide things from you. Is he afraid of your reaction? Is there something you’ve overreacted to in the past that is worrying him?
- Come to an understanding with your teen about honesty and the importance of being honest within your family. Reassure him that you will always listen to his truth and respond in a way that doesn’t judge him or demonstrate anger.
As a parent, you are in the best position to demonstrate to your teen the importance of honesty, particularly when it comes to his safety and well-being.
Are you looking for the perfect type of therapy for your troubled teen? At HelpYourTeenNow we can connect teens and their parents with the right type of therapy options to meet the needs of the individual. Call to find out how we can provide guidance and solutions for struggling families.
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