When Does Lying in Teens Become Dangerous?

Untruthful behavior can be a common situation with some adolescents. Although teenagers might lie in a variety of circumstances, there are times when lying may not be a monumental issue. You may also encounter times when a teen’s lies become downright dangerous due to the situation or behavior the teen wants to hide.

Indications of Problems

It can be difficult to discern when your teenager isn’t truthful with you. If you have concerns about your teenager, it may be helpful to examine your teenager’s behavior to determine whether a problem exists. If your teenager’s sleep habits suddenly change -- sleeping too much or too little -- this could indicate substance abuse, states the Florida International University. In addition, irrational or erratic behavior and depression may also indicate a problem.


When you question your child about your concerns or observations, a teenager in trouble may lie to hide behavior or problems. Dangerous lies that may indicate that your teen is having trouble include where your teenager has been, who your teenager was with or what your teenager was doing. When you question your child about his activities, if anything seems amiss or suspicious, verify the story to confirm its validity.

Other Lies of Consequence

A teenager having difficulties in some area of her life may also begin lying about school assignments and even attending school. Teenagers may also be untruthful about cell phone and Internet activity if they have activities they wish to hide from you, such as sexting or risky online behavior. If you have concerns about substance abuse and you question your teen about symptoms or problems, the teenager may brush you off or lie about behavior or evidence.

Your Response

When you determine that your teenager is lying to cover up unsafe or risky behavior, it’s important to respond quickly, advises Jeffrey Bernstein, Ph.D., with the Psychology Today website 1. Discuss the situation with your teenager, explaining your concerns. Depending on the situation, you may need to seek professional counseling or crisis intervention if your teenager is engaging in substance abuse or self-harming activities. If the activities involve truancy or another legal offense, you may need to involve school or local authorities.

Lesser Lies

Although untruthfulness can be frustrating for parents, there are some lies that do not require a major response, states Bernstein. Untruths such as embellishing a story or lying to get out of a chore may not be dangerous, but if you notice a pattern of untruthfulness, you may need to intervene with your teenager to resolve the situation. Discuss the pattern of lies with your child and explain that lying can be hurtful -- both to her and to others, advises Megan Devine, parental support line advisor with the Empowering Parents website 2. Resist lecturing, but do tell your child that lying is not a positive choice to make.