Navigating the stormy waters of the preteen years can be a challenge, and a lying preteen is pretty common. Some preteens may think that telling a lie is an easy way to deal with difficult situations they encounter. If you discover your preteen has been a little less than truthful, here is how to put an end to this type of behavior.
First, keep in mind that there are several reasons that tweens lie to their parents. They may lie to cover up a poor choice they have made or to avoid doing a tasks, like homework. Tweens have underdeveloped problem-solving and socials skills, and to them telling a lie may seem like a quick fix to a problem. Without going into a lecture on morals, calmly explain to your tween why the lie he told was an example of dishonestly and help him discern other paths of action he could have taken to solve the problem. Over time, with your help, he will improve his problem solving skills. However, if you suspect your tween is covering up risky or illegal behavior, seek the help of a mental health professional in your community immediately.
Another reason tweens lie is to feel more powerful. They may exaggerate the details of a story or even completely make up something that never happened. Often, this is an effort to cover up low self-esteem and feelings of insecurity. Gently open a conversation with your tween about his dishonestly. Let him know you are aware of his behavior and ask him why he lied. You may be able to find the root cause of his insecurity right away, or you may just get a response of ‘I don’t know.’ In either case, you have let him know this behavior is not acceptable, while keeping the lines of communication open between you and your tween. With your help, your tween can improve his self-image, giving him less reason to exaggerate.
Whatever the cause of this behavior may be, you will need to decide upon the consequences your tween will face when he lies. Apply the consequences on a consistent basis to help discourage future instances of dishonestly.