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How Can I Stop My Pre-Teen From Lying All the Time?

by Tiffany Raiford

You might expect your toddler to look at you with wide innocent eyes and proclaim that she had absolutely nothing to do with the crayon artwork on the living room wall, but you don’t expect your pre-teen to lie to you about such things. However, pre-teens, like most other kids, lie from time to time. Sometimes your adolescent lies to stay out of trouble, out of fear or even to continue a former lie. Regardless of the reasons, you need to stop your pre-teen from turning lying into a habit.

Lying by Commission vs. Lying by Omission

When someone lies by commission, it means that he is lying deliberately; he is telling you a completely false story on purpose. For example, if your pre-teen asks you if he can spend the night with his best friend, Joe, on Friday night and he really goes to a party at another friend’s house where no parents are present, he is lying by commission. Omission is a form of lying in which a portion of the truth is left out. For example, if he asks to go to Joe’s house on Friday for a sleepover and he doesn’t mention that Joe’s parents will be out of town that night, it is a lie by omission. Understanding the difference can help you deal with your pre-teen’s lying; he might not think lying by omission is really lying.

Discuss the Complications of Lying

Sometimes talking to your adolescent about the complications she causes in her own life when she lies is a good way to encourage her to stop lying, advises psychologist Carl Pickhardt on Psychology Today. Say she tells her best friend that she can’t go over to her house on Saturday afternoon because she’s grounded, but she’s not grounded. In fact, another girl invited her to go shopping, and your daughter decides to lie to her best friend to spare her feelings. Explain to your daughter how complicated this seemingly simple lie can be; she might run into her best friend or her best friend's parents or siblings at the mall, she might see other kids from school who will bring it up on Monday in front of her best friend, she has to continue to lie to her friend about being grounded and she has to ask her new friend to lie for her. It’s a complicated situation, and understanding that might help your teen choose to be honest in the future.

Create Consequences

According to Dr. Phil McGraw, behavioral expert and talk show host, you need to create consequences for your pre-teen that you will enact when he lies. For example, if he knows that lying about a bad grade or about where he’s been will result in the loss of his favorite privileges, such as television or the phone for a few days, he’s less likely to lie to you.

Follow Through Immediately

According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, following through right away on whatever punishment or consequence you choose is one of the most important aspects of ending unacceptable behavior. For example, if you catch your pre-teen lying to you about her grades, immediately take her phone away or revoke her privilege of visiting with friends for the next few days. Don’t allow her to attend her friend’s birthday party that afternoon and begin her punishment the following day; follow through right away. This helps her learn that lying is not worth the effort.

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