Chance are the last time you could truly know when your teen was lying about something serious was before they reached puberty. Prior to reaching adolescence, children act like children, so it isn’t difficult for an adult to recognize a lie, because frankly speaking, they haven’t learned that “grown-up” skill. But they do learn how to lie effectively, and it happens at about the same time that they want to be treated like an autonomous adult. Children often mirror adult behavior, whether it is their parents, teachers, coaches, or the people they see on TV. They learn very quickly just how power a lie can be. It can get them out of doing things they don’t want to, and it can remove blame and consequences of a bad actions they may have taken.
Zion Educational Systems Family Advocates help parents find answers for their troubled children. Call 866-471-8579 to learn more.
Lying Might Be Normal for Teens
Even though children eventually learn how to effectively lie, it’s important to help them understand that lying can have very dire consequences. We have all had experiences where a lie has come back to bite us. In some cases, like lying to the police or on a resume, the risk far outweighs the reward. Teenagers generally haven’t developed critical or consequential thinking skills and can cannot see beyond the immediate benefit of a lie. As a parent, if you believe your child is lying, keep trying to find the truth. But respect his or her underlying reason for feeling the need to lie. Often it is just because they are embarrassed or fearful of how you will react. Assure them they are loved and you just want them to be safe.
Empathic listening is critical to getting a teen child to admit they were lying. Communication always works more effectively when anger isn’t part of the mix. Besides that, anger will likely just cause your child to dig in deeper in supporting the lie. If children become dependent on the feelings of detachment that lying gives them, they run the risk of becoming pathological liars. Follow your instincts, and if you feel there is a real problem, Call Zion Educational System (866-471-8579). They have programs to help guide your child in making choices that reward good behavior.