You just caught your teen in a lie that sounds so convincing like something right out of the mouth of a seasoned pro. Now you’re looking for effective ways to check that vice ASAP so it doesn’t occur again.
Well, you’ve come to the right place. We have just what you need to help your teen clean up their act and live a lie-free and consequently reduced teen stress.
Scroll on to read effective and time-tested tips you can use to encourage your child become more honest.
First, you need to remain calm
Yes, you’re disappointed and mighty angry at your teen’s lie, but the first tip when confronting your teen is to keep cool. The last thing you want to do is explode, no matter how hurt you are, because they may be inclined to tell even more lies.
If your teen feels they cannot handle how you react to unpleasant news, they will always tell lies to cover up their misdeeds and to dodge confrontations.
We’ve seen time and time again how important it is to stay calm when dealing with a lying teen.
This makes them comfortable revealing the truth, opening up more about the matter, and easily admitting future misbehaviour.
Explain the dangers that come with dishonesty
Most times, people lie to avoid punishments and hurtful outbursts. But by making your teen realize lying doesn’t make things right and the dangers involved, it could change their perspective on being dishonest.
For instance, you could share with your teen how bad situations fester and how depressing lying can be, even if they are not caught. Look for real stories to back up your claim.
Try telling them being weighed down with guilt isn’t fun, and that by internalizing and externalizing negative things affecting them. They put themselves at risk of harmful emotional patterns.
Make your lying teen understand how valuable trust is. And that the more they tell lies, they won’t be able to develop strong and good relations with other people as they keep letting them down.
Also explain how “relieving” and stress-free being truthful is, as you don’t have to keep track of or tell more lies to cover up previous false stories.
Give examples, your teen can personally relate with where lying complicated things, and how hurtful and hellish it was for everyone involved.
Lastly, we advise you make your teen aware of dangers they could fall into when they lie instead of opening up about the truth.
Ask them questions like:
What if something terrible happens and they didn’t disclose the truth about their real location or who they’re hanging out with – how can they get the needed help?
Or maybe they lied about drinking and ended up in a situation where they had to drive, which puts them and others at major risk.
It’s a good idea you come up with several dangerous consequences as you can for your each lie the child tells to drive home the point that lying isn’t worth it.
To make this talk with your kid more entertaining and not a one-sided dialogue – have your teen share instances including personal stories where lying caused more trouble instead of fixing things.
It wouldn’t hurt if you also chip in personal stories of your own about the ills of lying.
Be a good role model and demonstrate honesty in your actions
Most times, children mirror their parents’ actions so one of the ways of encouraging honesty in your teen is to become honest yourself.
How can you effectively communicate to your child that lying is bad when you aren’t practising what you preach?
As a parent, your child sees you as a role model and it’d be bad for them to see you in the habit of telling lies – to your spouse, children, or even your friend over the phone. Keep in mind that your teen is watching and learning every step of the way.
With time, they’ll start thinking lying is okay and there’s no harm in it. Really, honesty does begin with you as the parent.
Another way people justify lies are by telling “White lies”. Lying is lying and there’s nothing good about it.
For example, because you don’t want to make your kids worry you tell them a white lie that to make them feel better. Whereas you had a pretty hectic day at work.
Many times, kids can see through white lies with ease but would rather choose not to call you out on them. However, they’re watching and taking notes.
So don’t be surprised when you ask your teen how their day in school day went and you get a “fine” or “great”. In a worst case scenario, you’ll get a more concocted story of how awesome their day went. In reality, they were bullied or had a tough day in school.
Remember they learnt from you or your spouse how it is okay telling white lies to shield loved ones and not to make them worry.
So emphasize with your teen and put it into practice yourself – always say things as they are.
At times, it may not be your fault – So don’t take it personally
Sometimes, no matter the number of good examples parents set, you’ll still see a child deviating from the morals inculcated in them at home every now and then.
Your teenager may lie for various reasons, which is often not about you. So, it is best to tell yourself that their lies aren’t meant to hurt you.
It’s just a typical teenage behaviour, though that doesn’t imply you should condone the habit.
If you keep this outlook, it’ll be easier for you to discuss with your teen their lying ways without personal feelings muddying up the water.
Hire professional help if you’re not making headway with your teen
The harsh truth is that a secretive and chronic lying teen is more likely to fall into great danger. Since no one may point out hidden dangers to them that may not be initially obvious to the eye.
If your child refuses to say the truth, even in minor things, your best recourse might be to seek professional help.
There are possibilities of underlying issues like ODD or something else that you can’t diagnose on your own. This could be fuelling your teen’s dishonesty.
Consider getting a therapist to talk with your teen about their chronic lying ways, so you can help them stay safe.
Get To Work NOW
Now that you’re armed with different tactics to quell your teen’s lying habits, don’t procrastinate – start working on your teen immediately. Lying is seen as a new norm with teens and even several adults.
So don’t throw in the towel too early. Don’t let your child become addicted to this way of life. It may take a while for the lessons to begin having impact.
That’s okay and should be expected, you just keep putting in the work to make them more honest.
By using these tactics, you’re well on the way to developing a better relationship and improving your discussions with your teen.
Andy Earle is a researcher who studies parent-teen communication and adolescent risk behaviors. He is the co-founder of talkingtoteens.com, ghostwriter at WriteItGreat.com, and host of the Talking to Teens podcast, a free weekly talk show for parents of teenagers.