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What’s the appropriate punishment for a lying teenager? This is what to do

Teenagers will lie. There’s no getting around it. There’s no denying it will happen. It’s a matter of when, not if they lie to you. Whether they lie to get out of a situation or they lie because they think you want to hear a certain something, they will do it. Multiple times. It’s what you do as a parent in reaction to it and how you handle it that is important.

Lying doesn’t automatically mean your teenager is trying to manipulate you. They need to test boundaries, test limits, and sometimes get attention from you. When it happens, it’s best to be prepared. Let’s go over some discipline strategies for teenagers for when they tell you a big fat lie.

A sullen teenager female talking to her mother.

What’s the appropriate punishment for a lying teenager?

Everything you do has a consequence, right? You don’t pay a bill, you get a late fee. And if your child lies, there needs to be a consequence. Rules and accountability are extremely important. You shouldn’t be afraid to punish your teen for lying.

Common punishments are:

  • Taking away their phone
  • No car privileges
  • No electronics/laptop
  • Extra chores

The take-away game might seem harsh, but teenagers respond when you take away what matters to them. While these aren’t all of the punishments you can use, they are the bigger ones most kids care about.

The punishment should match the action

Blindly removing all of their stuff won’t do anything. If you have a book-loving kid and you tell them no electronic devices, they are basically getting a vacation being sent to their room. If your child hates driving and you take away the car, you’re only having them live their best life. It should be an appropriate punishment for a lying teenager.

If it was lying about leaving the house, then take away the car. If they said they would be home by 10 pm and they didn’t get home until midnight, those keys don’t touch their hand. Pick what your child actually likes, and take that item away only.

But watch out – kids are smart. If you say no video games with their friends instead of no electronics, then your teen will just hop on their laptop and play that way. Think of the loopholes because you know your child will.

A father having a talk with his daughter.

Be ready for the guilt trip

Your child will probably throw out the old “I hate you” at some point. Talk with them and let them know it’s not them that you are upset with, it’s what they said. They might really think that or they might be saying it to make you feel guilty. Either way, don’t let it.

Stay strong, but explain your reasoning behind it. Has their video gaming let their grades drop too much this semester? Have they been late the last three times they’ve gone out? Explain to them that if you were late three times, you could be fired from work. Ask them how they would feel if you didn’t call them and were hours later getting home than normal.

It’s not about trying to make them feel bad or make them feel like they are a horrible kid. It’s that when you do something, a consequence follows. Whether they agree or not, they will still be punished, but they won’t get the “because I said so” reasoning.

The punishment shouldn’t be a ridiculous length

Telling a teenager they lost their phone for a month won’t get the best result. It sounds fine in the heat of the moment, but it will actually make your teen feel defeated. Pick a weekend, or the rest of the week, and make that the time where your child loses their privileges. And they only lose the privilege associated with their lie.

Judgment-free zone

A strategy for getting them to scale back their lying in the future is to have some judgment-free zones.

Certain times where they will not get punished

If your child was drinking at a party and calls you for a ride home, you go get them. There’s no punishment for being safe and not trying to drive home.

If your child is in a dangerous situation and needs your help, they shouldn’t get a punishment. You can always circle back to the wrong behavior, but they need to know there are times where no questions will be asked and you will be there for them.

A mother and daughter having an intimate conversation.

What not to do

Parents all have the urge to do it, but there are some things you need to avoid doing when your child lies to you.


  • Snoop through their private things
  • Yell and scream at your child
  • Think they are always lying
  • Ignore or play down their lies

Doing these can break the remaining trust between you and your teen. It can also make your teen want to lie more and more often. Keep it calm, keep it level, and talk out any remaining issues with your teen.

Remember, your teenager will lie. It’s a part of testing their boundaries and it helps develop their brain. How you handle their lying will lay the groundwork for how your relationship continues to develop. Having a healthy and open line of communication will help your teen talk to you about why they lied so you can both work towards your child being more honest in the future.

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