Punishing teenagers who lie will get you nowhere. Parents have been struggling to discipline their teens who dared to lie. Having said that, here are some basic rules of modern parenting to give consequences for lying teenagers that are guaranteed to work wonders.
Parents ask this question regarding their teens quite often; is it normal for a teenager to lie?
The answer is yes. Teenagers lie as part of their brain development who is responsible for planning and decision-making. Therefore, teenagers sometimes make poor-decision such as lying.
There are many reasons why your teen lies to you. It varies from lying for personal gain to lying to get their way at times. Yes, teens often come up with the most creative and ingenious ways to wear parents down.
Your teen may tell you half the truth, come up with stories to cover their misdeeds, or even omitting parts of the information to get what they want.
Does that mean teenagers are manipulative?
According to Psych Central, teenagers can pick manipulative tendencies to avoid troubles, to get love and attention, or to feel more powerful in a world of adults.
Manipulative teens are able to pick up on your weaknesses as parents and use it against you. For example, your teenage son may say “Everybody in the class has this cool watch. If I don’t wear the same, they will leave me out.”
If your goal as parents is to keep your son happy at all times, you may easily fall into their trap. Although it is important to help him mingle in the class, it is also your job as parents to teach your teenage son about the world.
Dealing with lying and manipulative teenagers can be exhausting and drain your ideas. Especially after you planted the seed of honesty since their early childhood and they still lie.
Sometimes, you don’t even know why your teenager lies.
I tell you what, it’s completely okay not to know why children lie. The more important thing is how you react after realizing the truth and how you deal with your teen to set them back on the honesty track.
How Do You Give Consequences to Teenagers for Lying?
Rules and consequences go hand in hand. Your teens should be held accountable for their actions and when they break the set of rules, there will be punishment waiting for them.
Selective punishment can have a corrective influence on teenagers of certain ages. The most common form of punishment among parents is taking out the privilege of their teenagers. For example, loss of screen time, limited car use, restricted social freedom, and engaging in special chores for a certain period.
When dealing with lying teenagers and giving consequences to them, it’s recommended that you don’t allow them to get under your skin. Maintain your control as parents and teach them better ways to communicate their needs.
Having said that, there are differences between consequences and punishment when it comes to lying teenagers.
Consequences vs Punishment
You may say you want to punish your teenagers for lying where what you mean is actually giving them consequences for violating set of ethics.
What’s the difference between consequences and punishment?
First, you can tell the difference between them by looking at their goals. Consequences aim to teach lessons to your teens that lead to better choices, conducts, and decisions. Punishment, on the other side, aims to inflict pain, hurt, and to make things even.
Second, consequences encourage self-pondering, accepting responsibility, and gain the ability to learn from mistakes that eventually let your teens grow.
Meanwhile, punishments promote force, intimidation, and revenge that will cause resentment in your teens and rarely help your kids develop.
Consequences are intended to modify your teens’ behavior for the better and punishments are not suitable to reach this goal.
11 Rules to Give Consequences For Lying Teenagers
Parents are having trouble to give effective consequences to their teenagers. They just don’t seem to work!
Well, if you’re experiencing this, know that you’re not alone. Coming up with creative ways to set your teens straight seems like an impossible task.
Effective consequences should encourage your teens to change their behavior in a positive way, whether that is adhering to the rules, treating people with respect, or being honest.
Gladly, there are rules on giving consequences to your teens when they lie.
#1 Connect the Consequences to the Original Behavior
Effective consequences are the ones that are connected to the original behavior. It means, your consequence needs to be connected to the behavior you want your teen to change or improve.
For example, if your teenage son lied about where he went, you can take away his social freedom by making him stay at home for two to four days and being truthful during those days.
See, the consequence is tied to the behavior.
Because he lied where he went, he now has to bear the consequences of not having freedom until he is telling consecutive truth during their stay at home.
The second rule to effective consequences is to give your teenager a specific task they have to perform.
In the example above, I mention that your teenage son is grounded in for two to four days and has to be truthful. This is task-specific. It requires him to exercise the prefrontal cortex that’s responsible for planning and decision-making.
If your teenage son wants his social freedom, he has to demonstrate honesty during his stay at home and gain back the trust of the parents. Only then he can claim his privilege back.
#3 Choose the Correct Consequence
Privileges are the best motivators.
Parents play the “game of take away” when their teenager violates the set of rules in the family. Withdrawing privileges from your teens can be a great motivator for them to improve their behavior.
Granting the privilege back should give them an incentive to follow the rules in the household, even when they disagree with those rules.
Your consequences should be privileges your teen are interested in. For example, your teenager loves to play video games, while others would just find another activity they can engage in. Taking away internet access for two hours work for some kids while others couldn’t care less.
An effective consequence is a privilege that is unique to each of your teenager. You need to know your child to make this work for you.
Now, ask yourself, what are their interests? What would really give them an impact if they lost it for some period of time?
From there, choose an activity that your child will actually miss when you withhold that privilege for a short period of time. It’s recommended to use the blanket term such as “all electronics” works better than just saying “no video games” which can make your teens turn into Youtube for distraction.
#4 Reward Them for Adhering to Honesty
When your teenager is being truthful about something, give him rewards that he appreciates. This can be longer gaming time, later curfew for staying out, or even an increased amount of pocket money.
This is also known as positive reinforcement and it is a powerful technique to morph your teenager’s behavior especially during their formative years.
Positive reinforcements are widely used in school and child care centers to entice children to perform a task, learn a new skill, or exhibit the desired behavior more frequently.
As parents, you need to give recognition and compliments when your teen shows honesty and keeping his promises. It’s recommended that you give him more trust as he shows trustworthy characteristics.
Remember the first rule?
You have to connect the consequences to the original behavior. The more he demonstrates honesty to you and the people around him, the more you entrust him with various things.
#5 Focus on Your Consequences
When you give consequences to your teen for lies that they’ve told, they might be shouting, crying, and coming up with sentences like, “Why do you hate me?”
In this situation, you need to focus on the consequences and not getting manipulated by your teenager. You need to emphasize that you dislike their behaviors and poor choices, not them.
Show your love to them but be assertive. Explain to your teen that his misbehaviors are not accepted in your house and he has to face consequences.
It’s is also essential not to criticize, reject, or lower your teen’s self-esteem when he acts as if he doesn’t care about the consequences or is denying them. Your teen cares more than you realize and he is trying to alter the situation with a game of manipulation and control.
Tell your teen that the consequences are there whether he cares or not. Explain briefly why your teen has to bear the responsibility of his action and tell him what you expect.
Don’t be authoritarian parents who give little explanation for punishment because he will only question himself or guess why he is being punished.
To avoid this, you can say something similar to, “You’ve lied to us about where you went. We were looking for you and I’ve been worried sick. As a consequences, you have to stay at home until you show us some honesty from your side. Only then you’re allowed to go outside again.”
#6 Be Attentive of the Time Span
The duration of the consequences you give to your teenagers for lying is essential. You don’t want it to be too long or too short.
Effective consequences are the ones with the right time span, otherwise they often lose their effectiveness.
Remember that your objective is not to give your teen consequences 24/7, but to communicate your teen that his choices and actions can be held accountable.
It’s best to give the smallest consequence rather than the too big one. For example, it’s better to say, “You’re grounded for two days,” rather than “You’re grounded for a month.”
Although you didn’t mean to really ground your kid for a month and just want to scare him, it’s not how you can deliver effective consequences for lying teenagers.
According to Michael Orlans at Evergreen Psychotherapy Center in Colorado, consequences that are too big can cause your kid to feel perpetually punished, become hopeless, and has no motivation to change.
#7 Emphasize the Consequences of Lying
As parents of teenagers, you can be prone to strip your teens’ freedom as consequences of their lying behavior.
For an effective consequence, you are not supposed to take every freedom and resources your teen has. Doing so will only liberate your teenager because he or she has nothing left to lose.
Keep in mind to only emphasize the consequences of lying and do not be blurred by other misbehavior your teen already did. Do not mix things up. You want to work on his or her behavior one at a time.
Take the time with your teen to explain some common costs that liars pay according to Psychology Today.
- Liars injure those they love because lies take advantage of other people’s trust.
- Liars are doubly punished because when he or she is caught, there will be double consequences.
- Liars complicate their lives as they have to remember to version of reality; the truth and the lie).
- Liars hurt themselves because they lack the courage to claim their own actions and take responsibility.
- Liars live in constant fear if someone will find out the truth and expose them.
- Liars feel out of control easily because they can’t keep their story straight and remember all the lies they’ve told.
- Liars are lonely as they distance themselves from people they’ve lied to. And when it happens in the family, they can’t keep close contact with another family member.
- Liars become confused, especially when they lie so often and cannot differentiate between the truth and his own lie. They fool no one except themselves.
#8 Talk About Consequences-Free Situations
Anthony E. Wolf, a psychologist who wrote Get Out of My Life! But First Could You Drive Me and Cheryl to the Mall? A Parent’s Guide to the New Teenager suggests that parents talk to their teens about consequence-free situations.
For example, you may want to address the situation where your teen has been drinking and need a ride home. You want your teen to call home and you will pick him or her up anytime. No questions asked, no lectures.
The goal is to make an agreed-upon situation where the possibility of harm (i.e., drunk driving) is too great of a risk to your teen to avoid consequences.
#9 Give Space and Time for the Rules to Work
Dr. Wolf also points out that parents often assume that their rules aren’t effective if their teenagers do not follow them completely. According to him, this is not true.
When the night curfew is at 11:00 PM and your teenagers return home at 12:00 PM, Dr. Wolf argues that the rule is actually working. Something is reminding your teenager to return home, but the need for independence and not wanting to put responsibility above fun are keeping him from coming home before the curfew.
It also applies to teenagers when they lie. Parents are sometimes frustrated because their teenagers still lie even though they’ve put this guide of giving consequences to practice.
When your teenagers violate the rules, the consequences are still in the room and you need to hand those to them regardless of what your teens may say.
Most teenagers will still try to stretch the rule to see how far they can bend it before being punished. Sometimes, it takes a lot of confrontation and consequences to make your teen understand that once the rule is violated, he or she will be held accountable.
#10 Symbolic Reparation
It’s highly likely that your teen will still lie even though you’ve conducted many consequences for their negative behavior and you may be running out of ideas.
There is one way to enforce honesty to your kid by applying some symbolic reparation. It means, your teenager must do a task that he or she would not normally have to do in order to lift the offense off.
For example, when they’re lying about smoking, you can ask them to do a certain errand such as washing all the vehicles in the house. Once it’s done, you can start a discussion and dig into the reason why your teen lied.
#11 Start a Full Discussion About the Lying
Open communication within the family is highly recommended for parents of teenagers. Your teen should be able to discuss with you without being judged, criticized, or lectured.
To have healthy communication about the lying your teen has done, it should consist of 5 important things.
One, you have to explain the high cost of lying. Teenagers are self-absorbed (aren’t we all?). They can’t always connect the lying they do to how it affects other people.
Your teen has to understand the risks that go with dishonesty and how liars mostly end up mistreating himself above other people.
Two, explain how it feels to be lied to so your teenager understands the emotional impact of someone who has been lied to.
Three, insist to fully discuss the lying. Dig deeper why it happened, paint a situation if your teen could have chosen differently where the lying did not happen and what he or she is going to do to prevent lying from happening.
Four, communicate well that lying in the family will always be treated as a serious offense because of the impact it causes. Take your time to explain that if you let your teenager lies, he or she will be more likely to lie in a serious matter later on.
Convey the message that you giving consequences for lying is an act of love because you want to protect them from further lying.
Lastly, state that you intend to reinstate the trust and resume an honest relationship so you don’t drive yourself crazy with distrust. Explain that everybody in a healthy relationship is able to trust each other and always telling the truth no matter how hard they are.
Wrong Way to Give Consequences to Your Teen
Aside from the correct way to give consequences, there are also wrong ways to do it.
Let’s have a look at the 5 things you should not do when setting your teenagers back on the honesty track.
#1 You take it personally. It’s easy to feel disappointed and angry when your teenager lied to you. But chewing him out will not make him obey the rules or get the truth out of him.
#2 You get upset when the truth is ugly. Praise your teenager for his honesty and work as a team to solve the problem.
#3 You label your teen as a liar. Teenagers take labels seriously and it will shape their view about themselves. This will only further their path to lie.
#4 You strip him of his own privacy. When your teenager has broken the trust, it’s easy to cross the line and break into your teen’s personal matter. Respect the boundaries and focus only on the matter he is lying about.
#5 You justify their lies. Although it’s normal for teenagers to lie, don’t take it lightly when your teen lies. It can grow into a bigger problem and ignite serious problems.
Teens lie and that’s normal. It’s part of a childhood development milestone that allows teenagers to develop some parts of their brains.
How you react as parents, however, is an important matter so you do not destroy the valuable parent-child relationship.
Follow these simplified 11 rules on giving effective consequences to teenagers who lie.
- Connect the consequences with the behavior you want to alter. If your teen lies about where they go, ground them for two to four days until they demonstrate honesty in their behavior.
- In order to be effective, your consequences have to be task-specific. When your teen has done the required task, he or she can have the freedom back.
- Choose the consequences wisely. Take away the privilege that your teen will miss dearly when it’s taken from them for a short time.
- Praise and give them rewards when your teenagers successfully adhere to the rules and being honest.
- Focus on the consequences you are giving and do not let your teenager gets under your skin and manipulates you.
- Be attentive to the time span as longer consequences can lose its effectiveness because your teen will lose all hope and feel like he has nothing to lose.
- Emphasize the severe consequences of the lie your teen uttered. Explain how it affects people’s trust in them and how liars are only fooling themselves at the end.
- Establish a consequence-free situation where the risk of avoiding consequences is far greater.
- Give space and time to your teenagers to follow the rules. They will not fully abide by your rules overnight. Even when he still comes home after the night curfew, your rule is still working.
- When you’re running out of ideas of consequences, allow your teenagers to make up his misbehavior by doing a specific task as a symbolic reparation.
- Have a discussion with your teenager and dig into the reason why the lie occurred. Make sure to have healthy and open communication without your teen feels as if he or she is being reprimanded, lectured, criticized, or judged.