How can you tell if your teenager is lying?  Although we will explore this topic of how to reduce teenage lying.

There are many ways to encourage truthfulness in our teens, but the biggest question we need to be asking in addition to ‘how’, is ‘why’.

Even though lying is natural among teens who are trying to find their identity and independence, that in no way makes it excusable. Let’s tackle dealing with it the right way.

How to reduce lying in your teen?

Did You Know As Parents, We Can help Reduce Teenage Lying?

As parents we must begin by taking a good look at ourselves before scoping out our teen’s lying habits.

Teenagers not only value their parents, but they desperately seek their parents’ approval. They could be lying because they are trying to protect us and don’t want to impact our relationship with them negatively.

Insider Tip: If you can find the ‘why behind the lie’, you can reduce the desire to lie.

Teens, among many others, may lie to avoid pain or punishment. Just like us adults at time do!

Since lying is a defense mechanism, one surefire way to alleviate your teen’s fears of this is through creating an atmosphere of open doors and understanding. Making telling the truth generally something that is honored, even when the truth is not what you want to hear.

Your teenager will be a full grown adult in less than a handful of years, so keeping the communication open can sometimes (though not always), be well worth forgiving the offense.

Mother and her teen daughter sitting down during a discussion about telling lies.

Tips For Reducing Teen Lying

1. Model Honesty

You don’t have to dish out your dirty laundry to your teen, but you must be vulnerable and transparent with your truths. Be open and honest about your successes and failures, your feelings and ideas as you are asking them to do the same with you.

Parents must lead by example by practicing honesty in their interactions and not exaggerating the truth. Be sure to practice what you preach, because if it doesn’t align, your teenager will know.

2. Stay Calm! Don’t React, But Respond

This one plays a HUGE role in reducing your teen’s lies. Let’s be real here, lecturing and interrogating your teen will not reduce their lying. This will only make them more secretive and defensive.

Learn to not take their lies personally as lying is normal teenage behavior.

Your teen is not out to hurt you, they’re just at that age where they’re trying to declare their newfound independence.

3. Never Shame Or Label Your Teen

By shaming or labeling your teen, they will surely continue to lie and will avoid you like the plague.

YouTube video

Whatever you tell your teens, good or bad, they will try to fit into that box of identity you labeled for them.

If you call them a liar, then they will live up to that label… But if you shape their identity with positivity, you will shape their behavior to fit into that box.

Techniques used by mothers to help their teens be truthful.

Techniques To Use

4. Listen To Your Teens POV Behind Their Lying

Give your teens a fair hearing that is open for negotiation. Just like parents, teens just want to feel heard.

There’s a reason we have two ears and only one mouth, parents must learn to actively listen. Repeat what you heard back to them so they know you are truly listening.

Even if in the end we disagree on the outcome, the fact that we were willing to hear them out goes such a long way.

5. Connection And Communication

Parents must take the initiative on this one. Teens are judged daily by their peers and by society, so parents must establish a judgment-free zone for them.

Having an open-door policy allows teens a safe space so they can express exactly what their needs are. This can be over nightly dinners or on family walks.

Whatever fits best into your family’s schedule, just be sure to always stay connected and plugged into your teen’s ever-changing life. If dishonesty is ignored, intentionally or not, the disrespect will grow.

6. Reduce Teenage Lying By Promoting Trust

Teens are old enough to be given some input as to what they think the consequences of certain inappropriate behaviors should be. You give them the trust to include them in their behavior/consequence process and they will give you trust and honesty in return.

A great quote on trust by Dr. Nancy Darling PhD,

Good kids are trusted.  The more they’re trusted, the more they try to live up to that trust, and the more trustworthy they become.

A mom hugging her teenage daughter to increase communication and reduce lying.

Simple Strategies To Decrease Lying About School

7. Determine What Your Teen Is Trying To Gain Through Lying

Is your teen lying to try and gain approval? Gain acceptance? Or are they lying to protect another’s feelings?

Don’t focus on the morality of the lie, but look into your teen’s ‘why’ behind the lie.

This way parents and teens can strategize together on alternate ways to fulfill the need that they’re so desperately trying to gain through lying. This will show them that there are always options and alternatives to lying.

Parents can help their teens learn to navigate stormy waters by teaching them problem-solving skills. Providing your teen with these particular life skills can prevent them from drowning in a sea of lies.

8. Celebrate Their Honesty

As painful as it may be for the parent to hear the truth that their teen is dishing out to them, it’s better than a lie.

A teen telling the truth will always trump being dishonest. 

Because of that, it must be treated that way.

The truth can be disappointing, but parents must show their teens that honesty is both appreciated and valued. Acknowledge your teen’s acts of courage and bravery when speaking the truth.

Mom connecting with her two teenage sons

Increase The Parent-Teen Connection To Reduce The Lies

Adolescence is full of complexities where teens can quickly get spun into a spider web of lies. To lessen the impact of family friction, foster an environment where they can safely land. The world can be a scary place, but if they don’t have a secure parent they trust, then where shall they turn to?

Be sure to encourage an open dialogue, set clear expectations, and establish healthy boundaries.

Don’t get stuck on the lie, find out the ‘why’.  We as parents hold the keys to unlocking our teenager’s honesty.

PS. Want to encourage them even more? Try affirmations! Here are a few great affirmations and things to tell your teenage daughter.