Trust and communication come into play frequently when parents raise adolescents. Parents need to set boundaries and make house rules and consequences that they follow with consistency. However, many parents may find themselves struggling to determine when their teenager breaks these house rules or lies about an important issue. Teens often lie when they have exercised poor judgment in an attempt to identify with peers. Fortunately, parents can employ a few different tactics to help determine if their teen is lying about a particular issue.
Allow your teen to share his side of the story, with as many details as he cares to add. Rather than jumping in to correct statements or reacting disbelievingly, listen for conflicting information or for changes in the story as he progresses. Teens often backtrack or forget their story when lying.
Check your teenager’s speech patterns and pacing. If he pauses too long after you ask a question, or seems to be searching for a reason or a certain detail, chances are he is making up the story as he goes along. However, if a teen speaks too smoothly and quickly, the pacing may reflect a well-rehearsed story.
Watch your teen’s body language. Shrugging shoulders, looking down, hunching over and nervously fiddling around with hands and fingers may indicate he feels ashamed or nervous.
Check your teenager’s facial expressions. People usually avoid looking in other people’s eyes when lying, or they may look to the side quickly when answering a direct question.
Review your household rules and consequences for breaking them. Your teenager may start to waver as you discuss these issues and the fact that lying makes the situation worse.
Give your teenager a final chance to confess before he witnesses you checking his story or evidence.
- Avoid getting angry and defensive, which pulls you into a power struggle with your teenager. Instead, keep a calm but assertive attitude.