1. Parenting

14-Year-Old Teen and Compulsive Lying

By July 29, 2011

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Quick links: Teen Lying Help and Advice | Quiz: Is Your Teen Lying?

A parent on the forum is looking for advice: Miss 14 has an uncanny knack of lying about most things from as small as (but I did the dishes) with the dishes still in the sink to leaving the house all night and finds an excuse like I don't think I want to live here anymore Single dad of 2 teenage girls (14 and 13)which I only gained custody 3 and a half years ago it has been a long battle to keep them safe not only from the every day things in life but from they're own mother and her choices of substance abuse (drug and alcohol) to choice of partner (convicted child sex offender), she is also a compulsive liar. Miss 14 still says I have to earn her respect and yells and at times screams at me just to stop the "conversation". I hope someone can help with any form of advice. I just need help!

We have been seeing a family counselor for around 3 months now and as much as I think it helps us, it seems to go in one ear and out the other of miss 14. The main problem with these lies is it gets others in trouble and I can't help if I don't know the truth. Just another example from yesterday, 5 teachers marked her absent from class but she still says she was at school all day, even when confronted by school officials her attitude is to deny deny deny and it will go away.

Denise's thoughts: What is the goal of her behavior? She is lying because it is working for her. Whatever it is she doesn't want to do, she lies and doesn't have to do it. Or if she wants to get out of a school situation she put herself in, she lies and has everyone dealing with the lying and she skims by not having to deal directly with the real problem.

I would for a time take away the opportunity to lie. Explain that you cannot trust her words, so you will no longer be asking for them. Don't ask if she did the dishes, wait until you can check and then if they are not done, tell her to do them and give her a consequence if you have set one up.

Five teachers mark her absent? She wasn't there. No discussion necessary. If she continues to insist that she was, explain that you are sorry she feels the need to lie, but you don't believe her. You do hope that when the next situation pops up, she will trust you enough to tell you the truth because you love her.

Asking our parenting teens community: What do you do when your teen lies to you? Please share your thoughts, experiences and advice in our comments area.

Some resources:
Quick links: Teen Lying Help and Advice | Quiz: Is Your Teen Lying?

Comments
July 29, 2011 at 8:54 am
(1) Ruth says:

Dear Parent,
It is really frustrating, to know your kid lies like she does not care what happens next.
When my kids lie and I know that for eg did they clear their room, I say that if they do not do it within a time limit, then , they have to stop using the pc or play with playstation, or whatever it is they like doing most. I am sure your daughter likes something so much.. then take away that when you find out that she had lied. You tell her beforehand that that is what is going to happen if she does not carry out a duty or caught lying.

I think it is her way of hitting back as I would say she is angry and hurt at heart.

Good luck
Ruth

July 29, 2011 at 8:55 am
(2) MnDad says:

I get comments frequently from people who are amazed my kids answer my questions so honestly and forthrightly, even when they know they’re going to be in trouble. There are four things I have done since my kids were little that have helped to establish that honestly is in their best interest.

First, all of them were told the story of how a lie is like a cute little monster. It may seem small and harmless, but when you tell it, you release it into the world. Once out in the world, it feeds off the people it affects, eventually growing into a huge, hideous, scary mass of teeth and fangs. Then one day, it comes back to you; and bites you.

Second, I learned the NLP technique of calibration, and I calibrate to their truth/lie physiology. It’s very difficult for them to lie to me without me knowing it. This is kind of like poker “tells” but systematic and easy to learn with the right instruction and a little practice.

Next, when I ask my kids if they did/didn’t do something for which there are no consequences for failure (when I just want to know and let go) and they hesitate, I tell them that there will be no consequences. They are then free to tell me they forgot to do the dishes because they know all I’ll do is remind them to get them done.

Finally, if my kids lie about something they would be punished for doing, once they are found out, they get punished for the action, and they get an even harsher punishment for the lie. For example, no computer for a day for not doing the dishes, and grounded to the house for 3 days for lying. I rarely have to administer the extra punishment.

July 29, 2011 at 9:10 am
(3) Denise Guide to Parenting Teens says:

Some good advice! I’m wondering: What have you done with the ‘power struggle’ of your kids standing behind their lie and insisting it is the truth?

July 29, 2011 at 9:43 am
(4) Lynn says:

I have three children whom we adopted three years ago. They are 7, 9 and 11 and all had to lie to survive in their former life. Perhaps this was the case for your children before you got custody too. However, this is no excuse. I’ve been studying books about cognitive behavior change and in particular one called “Total Transformation”. In this book the author states that although high risk children have been through unthinkable things in their lives they still need to learn how to live and work within social norms in order to become successful adults. He also states that when children throw a fit when confronted with lying or other undesierable behavior it is their way of trying to control the situation. However, he warns that although it may seem easy to ignore these fits to try to descalate the problem situation, you must stick to your guns. Make the house rules, when someone is allowed to go out and when they must come home when things are calm. Talk about rewards for good behavior, (such as TV time, computer time or what the child is interested in doing, not necssarily something that costs money, but a menu of rewards the child helps decide when things are calm) also discuss consequences for not following the rules. Not completing chores, coming home late etc. Then follow through ever time. But without escalating or yelling. For example for the chore, when you notice it is not complete, ask what are you suppossed to be doing? Then tell them to do it and walk away. Even if the child tries to argue, don’t get sucked into the arguement. For staying out too late, tell the child that they have a curfew and are expected to follow it. Don’t be afraid to get the authorities involved, as they may be able to provide counseling or intervention that the child needs before things go further down the wrong road. For example, the curfew is 1000 PM and the child is not home, warn the first time and the second time call the police. In the long run this will help protect your child. Think about iThere is not much a young girl can be doing outside that is good after 1000 PM. Remember that even though your child wants to control the situation on the outside, she will really be a more balanced child if you continue to set the rules and stick to them. I know it is a hard road, we are on it as well with all three of our children. Good luck.

July 29, 2011 at 5:03 pm
(5) mom of 13yr old says:

Lynn offers some great advice. Through these hard times your facing, remember to let the girls know you love them. That their actions are bad but they’re not bad kids. I tell my daughter that sometimes I need to give her tough love and I may come off as mean but it is my duty as a parent to do just that… parent. Teenage girls will especially try to test you. Maybe they just want to push their limits to see how far you will go for them. Let her know you are not going anywhere through your love, care and discipline. Your daughters seem to have a hard time with all the changes. Good luck.

July 31, 2011 at 8:28 pm
(6) Ann Delcourt says:

I would ground her each time if she lied . until it stopped

August 1, 2011 at 6:52 am
(7) Dienye Atonye says:

all you need do here is to gain her trust.if I may ask are their people she tends to tell the truth apart from you, like her friends. if there are such people try talking to them to know you daughter better.
it seems to me like she doesn’t trust you, try not to be too hard on her but ensure that every wrong attitude have a disciplinary action, by so doing you will instill the behavior of respect and consciousness of consequences to her every action.

August 1, 2011 at 6:59 am
(8) Dienye Atonye says:

just allow yourself feel like a parent and work out your parenting strategy by
1. knowing your kids
2. making them know you
then step three will follow on it’s own.

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