How to Deal With a Teenager Who is Lying to You

As an unwritten rule, teenagers will invariably lie to their parents. If you happen to be a parent that believes wholeheartedly that your teenager doesn’t or if you are one of the teenagers who does not, you’re likely in one of the few and far between and should count yourself fortunate. 

It takes considerable effort to develop a relationship where a son or daughter will come to you at this age regardless of the situation and believe they can be honest, so that’s kudos to you as a parent. 

In most families, these individuals will find numerous things to lie about in an effort to avoid, especially how they feel.

Sadly, the lack of truth has the potential for harm if there is smoking, alcohol, or drug activity, particularly when operating a vehicle or maybe the possibility of riding in a car driven by someone under the influence of alcohol or drugs. 

Lying about things of this nature can result in someone getting hurt or worse. But peer pressure leads to keeping quiet.

Why do teenagers lie to their parents?

When teens start to recognize that they’re separate and unique individuals from their parents from a (“psychological and emotional standpoint”) capable of their own thoughts, opinions, values, and viewpoints, they want to exercise that independence by redirecting their loyalty toward close friends. Their reasoning, both ethically and morally, becomes skewed. 

That is cause for parents to step in when the lie becomes apparent since they want to instill positive values. That includes honesty, integrity, and respect, onto their kids. Hence, they grow into adults who can hold themselves accountable and show themselves as responsible.

Consequences for a lying teen

When catching your teen in lies about friends, secret emails, or other social media activities, the most critical concept is to approach them with a calm and patient demeanor. 

There needs to be a reasonable outcome associated with the behavior since developing a path back to a healthy, honest relationship can take considerable time, especially since lying has become a habit. 

As a parent, you also need to consider the kind of role model you display. Are you guilty of little lies to appease situations, and does your teen see that?

The consequences of the actions need to be proportionate to the degree of the behavior. Still, the suggestion is first to allow a second chance to tell the truth before the consequence will be imposed and explain what these will be as a teaching tool. 

You don’t want to focus on the repercussions as a punishment or that the teenager is being blamed for something, nor should you approach anyone while emotional or yelling or using an angry tone. 

When you react by screaming and being threatening or being heavy-handed with the repercussions, the individual will only remember the reaction and their consequences but not what they’re to learn or how to work on a healthier relationship. A few suggestions:

  1. Limiting car use
  2. Removing electronics for a specific period of time
  3. Moving the curfew up
  4. Screen time removed
  5. Grounding for 2-4 weeks, depending on the nature of the lies

The hope when working with teenage kids is that they’ll see that you’re being constructive with them in hopes of developing a home of trust and honesty. The goal is that they feel safe and secure in telling the truth despite the fact they might have repercussions to face. 

5 ways parents can reduce teenage lying

A lying teenager is merely attempting to see how far they can go with their newly growing independence and bending the household rules. 

There’s not a list of rules that you can follow to handle a lying teen. But the priority is to remain calm when discovering the lies about strangers they talk to secretly. So, remember, honesty is not always easy for a parent. 

There will be tough issues for the teen to talk over with mom or dad, considering perhaps the daughter might want to start using birth control or maybe the son wants to know he has a safe ride home when he has an alcoholic drink at a party. 

If you want kids to be open, honest, and respectful, in order to receive it, be prepared to provide it. Some ways to promote honesty from the very beginning:

1. Allow the kids to follow your lead.

Adults will lie in order to appease a situation, appeal to someone’s good graces, or avert a conversation, all in an effort to protect feelings or be polite. Kids don’t recognize the why of the situation. 

They only understand the behavior and that it helps prevent trouble, and the truth will upset people. In teenage years, this translates to keeping the peace. In order to fix the behavior, you have to start with your own.

2. Boundaries and rules can be negotiated

Teenagers are of the mindset that parents don’t listen. The only way to dissuade them from this ideology is to pay attention to what they have to say and then use that information to compromise on rules they find unreasonable. 

If they see they can trust you to be open, listen and communicate, they will let go of the lies.

3. Angry questioning is fruitless

A teen will shut down when you respond to a situation with anger and an interrogation. It’s natural for a parent to become angry, but it’s how you manage that emotion that you need to consider. 

You don’t want to approach the situation in an emotional state because you won’t pay attention or listen to what’s said, plus you’re likely to say things you shouldn’t. 

Talk it out with a mate first and find your point of calm before approaching the individual.

4. Trapping someone in a lie

Don’t trap a young adult in a lie. When you know with no doubt lies, have been told, don’t act as though you don’t know. That’s the same as lying, making you just as guilty. Honesty and being forthright is the expectation for the kid; it should also be for you.

5. Carefully consider discipline

Proactive approaches to dishonesty are the ideal way to deal with the behavior. If the consequences are disproportionate, the teenage kid is far more likely to up their lying the next time and become much more secretive about the person they talk to on WhatsApp, Facebook, or Instagram to avoid the level of punishment they have to endure. 

When someone comes clean with the facts, that should be considered and acknowledged when there are repercussions for lying. That means you can go light on them because they ultimately were honest, and eventually, that will become the new habit.

Creative punishments for lying teenagers

It can be challenging to develop creative ways to discipline a teenager since there are not many atypical ways. Generally, they’re used to grounding, removing car privileges, and taking away screen time, and electronics. 

But they mustn’t want the punishment to happen again in order for them to be effective repercussions. Let’s look at a few things you can do in an effort to be more creative with your approach.

Going to school

Not only can you drive your kid to school, but you can actually walk them inside and make sure that they get an appropriate hug and kiss before their day starts. That can happen for roughly a week. 

Kids, especially teens, don’t want to be seen with their parents generally. Nor do they want to be humiliated in front of their friends. When they know the repercussions of telling lies will result in their reputation having a smear, they’ll think twice about being more honest.

Music can be unpleasant

In our modern age of music, parents don’t understand most of the words, nor do they know how to dance to the music they play. A teenager who’s forced to listen to music through mobile phones from decades ago for the course of a week or two everywhere they go on a device they’re unfamiliar with from back in the day will consider honesty a better option than lies.

That also means no parties where current music is being played and no time with friends after school unless it’s in the home where the old music is being played; sort of like grounding in a sense but with the added twist of some tunes to keep from getting bored.


Honesty is undoubtedly the best policy. Still, as parents, we need to display the same behavior, and in all fairness, we’re not always the best role models. 

Granted, most often, the things we say and do are generally in an effort to protect and be kind, but it doesn’t matter how you color it; their lies. When a child is looking, all they see is that their parent is not telling the truth, plus it’s making everything okay.

That’s not the message we need to send to our kids, who then turn into teenagers believing this is how to maintain a sense of calm in their household. It’s vital to display the true values that you expect from your kids as they grow into the adults you’re hoping they become.

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