How to Know if Your Teen is Lying

July 8, 2019
Identifying your teen's lies on time may be key to preventing behavior problems. In this article, we share some tips on how to know if your teen is lying.

Communication between parents and children is a popular topic of discussion, especially when it comes to lies and deceit during adolescence, the stage of transition to adulthood. In this article, we’ll tell you how to know if your teen is lying to you.

This is important, as lying often leads to bigger issues, such as behavioral problems, emotional disturbances, and difficulties in family communication.

When You Realize that Your Teen is Lying

Parents often reach a turning point when they realize that their teen lied to them. Parents sometimes avoid talking to their child out of fear, as if ignoring the problem will fix it. At the same time, teens tend to feel a lack of trust and also avoid talking to their parents about what’s going on.

This leads to a gradual estrangement that hinders parental supervision. If it isn’t resolved, this adolescent behavior could lead to difficulty relating to the environment, aggressive behavior, or a lack of self-control, among other issues.

For this reason, the first step is discovering if your teenager is lying to you regularly. If this is happening, you should seek professional help to resolve this problem and restore a healthy bond.

You should also read: 5 Tips for Raising a Healthy Teenager

How to Know if Your Teen Is Lying to You

Some Indicators

Two parents trying to talk to their teen.

Your teen’s lies may be masking other problems. Thus, it’s important to know the indicators so you can intervene in a timely and adequate manner.

For starters, you’re probably reading this article because you suspect that your teen has been lying to you. If this is the case, you may have already detected some of these indicators:

  • Your teen exaggerates when they tell you things they’ve experienced.
  • They tell white lies often.
  • They don’t tell you things that are happening to them at school, such as test results.
  • You find out what they’re doing from others.
  • They post photos on their social networks that show only a very positive part of their daily lives.
  • You don’t know what they do when they go out with friends.
  • They only tell you a small part of any story.

Body Language

In addition, when you talk to your teen, you should also be aware of some detectable signs through their body language. These signs will help you discover if what they’re telling you is true or not. Also, they’re more apparent the younger they are.

For example, they’ll avoid looking into your eyes if they’re lying. In addition, they might look to the side, an eye movement that’s related to imagination or a possible lie. Also, their voice may shake and their hands may sweat.

This article may interest you: Body Language: 7 Tips for Increasing Your Confidence

How They Express Themselves

When you ask your teen a question, you should also pay attention to how they express themselves. They won’t speak in the same way if they’re telling the truth than if they’re lying.

For example, if they’re lying, they may repeat the same thing several times or give too many details about any situation. This is their way of trying to justify something that isn’t true.

Emotional Difficulties

A worried teen and her mother.

Your teen may lie due to self-esteem issues, difficulty socializing, or inattention. If so, it’s important to face this issue with good communication.

Every teenager has lied to their parents at least once. Adolescence empowers your teen, as they feel older and want to try everything. However, if your teen lies to you all the time, you should also analyze how they’re doing emotionally.

A teenager who lies may be suffering from emotional challenges such as low self-esteem, depression, stress, or a strong feeling of loneliness. Thus, they lie to show the person they’d like to be or to protect their parents so they don’t worry about them.

As a parent, it’s essential to detect your teen’s lies on time. This way, you’ll be able to help prevent negative behaviors that can harm your relationship with your teen and family trust, as well as your teen’s social relationships.

  • Engels, R. C. M. E., Finkenauer, C., & Van Kooten, D. C. (2006). Lying behavior, family functioning and adjustment in early adolescence. Journal of Youth and Adolescence. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10964-006-9082-1
  • Bureau, J. S., & Mageau, G. A. (2014). Parental autonomy support and honesty: The mediating role of identification with the honesty value and perceived costs and benefits of honesty. Journal of Adolescence. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.adolescence.2013.12.007
  • Perkins, S. A., & Turiel, E. (2007). To lie or not to lie: To whom and under what circumstances. Child Development. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1467-8624.2007.01017.x