How to Know Why and When Your Teen Is Lying


There is nothing more infuriating to a parent than when our children lie to our faces. When our kids are younger, we can easily tell when they are trying to pull one over on us. Their shifty little eyes would scream “I’m guilty” or the evidence would be clearly visible in a not so secret hiding place. Unfortunately for us parents, as our children become teenagers they get a lot better at lying.

Why Lie?

Take some comfort in knowing that you’re not a bad parent, most adolescents lie to their parents as they struggle to establish their own identity.

Here are five reasons your teenager might be lying to you:

  1. They Don’t Want to Get in Trouble– if they can avoid getting grounded by telling you a quick lie, chances are they will.
  2. They Don’t Want You To Be Disappointed With Them- Lying to you is a lot easier, and incredibly quicker than having to hear a lecture about “making good choices” and seeing the look of disappointment on your face.
  3. Peer-Pressure- As our children get older they are faced with the pressure of wanting to fit in with their peers, this is often done at the expense of their parents.
  4. They Feel Unheard– If our children feel like what they have to say isn’t warranted or valid, telling you the truth seems like a moot point.
  5. To Feel A Sense of Control– By lying to authoritative figures, our children feel an illusion of control.

When you look at these five reasons from your teenager’s perspective, you can see why it might be tempting to lie to you. Knowing these will also help you to recognize situations where your teenager may choose to lie, which will help you be able to catch them.

How to Know They’re Lying

As parents we can often suspect when our children aren’t being honest with us, but how can we know for sure? Before you go and buy yourself a lie detector, review these four indicators that your teen could be lying.

1. They Hesitate Before Responding

If you ask a simple question and your teenager needs a little bit of time to respond, it’s probably because they are concocting a plausible lie in their heads.

2. Body Language Will Give Them Away

You know your children better than anyone else. If you notice your teen acting fidgety, uncomfortable, sweaty, or restless, these are pretty reliable indicators that your teenager is lying to you.

3. They Provide 100% More Details Than Normal

When your teen has been given time to concoct a story, they will respond to a direct question with an incredible amount of irrelevant information in an attempt to cover up their lie.

4. They Get Angry and Defensive

Oftentimes when your teen is harboring a lie, they will go on the defensive in an attempt to dissuade you from wanting to investigate further. You may ask a simple question and they’ll give you a short, aggressive response. This hostility may also result in them secluding themselves from you by hiding in their room.

Don’t automatically accuse or assume that your teenager is constantly lying to you. This will inhibit open communication and your child will feel like they can’t come to you. At the same time, use these tips as a way to discover why and when your teen is lying.

Tyler Jacobson
Tyler Jacobson is a freelance writer, with past experience in content writing and outreach for parent and teen advocate organizations. His areas of focus include: parenting, education, social media, addiction, and issues facing teenagers today. Follow Tyler on: Twitter | Linkedin | Google +