Although it is disheartening for parents, most teenagers lie at some point or another. Teens lie for various reasons and parents must decide which lies to address and which to leave alone. Your teen needs your help if he is lying on a regular basis, exaggerating to get attention or trying to cover up dangerous or illegal behavior. You can help your teen stop lying by providing a safe space for your teen to talk, listening, appreciating honesty, modeling honesty and discussing real life consequences.
Provide a safe space for your teen to talk to you about anything. Janet Lehman of Empowering Parents notes that teens may lie to protect their identity, because they don't want to hurt someone's feelings or get in trouble, to be autonomous or to get attention. Become aware of the underlying reasons that your teen may be lying through listening non-judgmentally when your teen talks with you. If your teen feels that he can talk with you about anything, he may be less inclined to lie.
Appreciate honesty and do not punish your teen for telling the truth. Instead of focusing on the lying, make it a point to show genuine appreciation when your teen is honest. If you feel like your teen may be lying, you can even say, "I appreciate honesty" as you look her in the eye. Sometimes teens will tell more lies when they are caught lying if they fear getting in trouble. When you approach the behavior with your focus on honesty instead of dishonesty, your child will come to understand that it is more important that she be honest than for you to catch her in a lie. This can straighten out lying on the spot.
Model honesty in your personal and family life. Be true to your word with your teen and demonstrate honesty in all of your endeavors. Teens are watching their parents and will try different behaviors they see. They also have the added pressure of living up to an identity they are creating with peers. Talk openly about the importance of honesty and show honesty in situations, such as giving back extra change the cashier gives you at the grocery store.
Talk about real-life consequences with your teen. Share personal stories about lying, how it affects people's lives and what results it can have in your teen's life. Vanessa Van Petten of Radical Parenting suggests discussing consequences up front for lying in your family. Consequences that are respectful, related and reasonable communicate to your teen that lying is not acceptable and that you expect different. If a teen lies about where he went with the car, then the consequence may be no use of the car for an evening. You can also highlight the fact that your teen has the choice to be honest or dishonest and that honesty is the best policy.