Trying to navigate the world of raising a teenager is not the easiest thing you’ll have to do as a parent. Especially when you teenager starts pushing boundaries. One of the many ways they will push your buttons is telling lies. There’s no getting around it. There’s no denying it will happen. It’s a matter of when, not if, they will lie to you. They will lie to get out of a situation, they will lie to do get what they want, and they will lie to get you to leave them alone.
It’s what you do as a parent in reaction to the fabrications that is important. Lying doesn’t automatically mean your teen is trying to manipulate you. They may be testing their limits or trying to get attention they feel they aren’t getting. Let’s go over some punishments for a teenager who lies so you feel more prepared for the inevitable.
What’s the appropriate punishment for a lying teenager?
Everything you do has a consequence, right? You don’t pay a bill on time and you get a late fee. If your child lies, there needs to be a consequence. Rules and accountability are extremely important in life. You shouldn’t be afraid to punish your teen for lying.
Common punishments are:
- Taking away their phone
- No car privileges
- No electronics/laptop
- No non-school related activities
- No friends over/going to a friend’s house
- Extra chores
The take-away game might seem harsh, but teenagers respond when you limit what matters to them. While these aren’t all of the punishments to use, they are the bigger ones most kids care about.
The punishment should match the teen and the crime
Blindly removing all of their stuff isn’t the best way to do things, though. You have to use a bit of brain power here. If you have a book-loving kid and you tell them no electronical devices, they are basically getting a vacation being told to stay in their room all weekend. 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 your specific teenager.
Also think about what your child did and see if the punishment mirrors what they lied about. If your teen lied about leaving the house or what time they really came home, then take away the car.
Be ready to back up your reasons
Teenagers are magicians at making you second guess yourself and think maybe you were too hard on them. Stay strong, but explain your reasoning behind the punishment.
Have they been late the last three times they’ve gone out and lied each time? Explain that if you were late three times, you could be fired from work. Ask them how they would feel if you fibbed about where you were going and they couldn’t find you if something happened.
It’s not about trying to make them feel bad or like they are a horrible kid. When you do something negative in life, like lying, a consequence follows, and they need to know that. Their lie will still be punished, but they won’t get the “because I said so” reasoning.
The punishment shouldn’t be too ridiculous
Telling a teenager they lost their phone for a month won’t get you a hug and a “thank you.” It sounds fine in the heat of the moment, but it will only 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 agreed upon privilege.
Certain times where they will not get punished
A strategy for getting them to scale back fabricating the truth in the future is to have some judgment-free zones. If your child was drinking at a party and calls you for a ride home – you go get them. We understand the initial reaction is to punish for being dishonest about partying and underage drinking, but you need to think bigger picture. There shouldn’t be a 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 behavior and how they got into the situation, but they need to know there are times where no questions will be asked and you will be there for them.
What not to do
The instinct will be there, 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 now always lying
- Keep bringing up past lies
- Ignore or play down their lies
Doing these breaks the trust between you and your teen. It also makes your teen want to lie more, and more often if they feel they aren’t being believed anyway.
Remember, your teenager will lie. You lied as a teen. How you handle their hoodwinking lays the groundwork for how your relationship develops in the future. Instead of getting upset that your teen keeps fibbing, think about the reasoning behind it, why you would have bent the truth in their position, and have a calm and open line of communication to keep the deceit to a minimum.
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