Teens and preteens: what to do if they tell lies

Teens and preteens: what to do if they tell lies

It is important to educate children to tell - and tell themselves - the truth

"It is undoubtedly important that the parent educates the child in the truth, which serves not only to build a relationship based on trust with him, but also to accustom the child to face reality, what he likes and what he dislikes, and do not hide behind a lie to escape from a difficult or frightening situation ”said Scalari, psychologist and psychotherapist of the developmental age.

But telling a few lies is a physiological step towards autonomy ...

Every so often, however, for our children to tell a lie is also an expedient to assert their autonomy. Younger children do it to experience the thrill of not being totally transparent for mom and dad or to hide some flaws. "And children do it all the more when they enter pre-adolescence and adolescence, which mark the transition phase from addiction to parents to the desire to show that you know how to take care of yourself, to make choices that would not always be pleasing to parents ”, stresses the psychologist. “And to take responsibility for both the action and the consequences if you get caught. In this sense, the lie is a positive fact, precisely because it educates to a sense of responsibility. If one day the boy skips school with the consent of mum and dad, it is as if he had dumped the inconvenient truth on them as well and as if the 'faults' were shared again; if he instead he does everything by himself, he learns to tolerate the fear of being discovered and to get out of the way of both teachers and parents. It can then be said that the lie is a physiological stage of the growth process. Otherwise it is always mum and dad who decide and do it for them. While the children never grow up ".

Read also: Children's lies: how to behave based on age

… And a way not to hurt parents

Sometimes children hide certain truths because they fear that they would hurt their parents or already know that they would not approve of certain behaviors. But then why do they still perform certain actions? "Because  they are experiences that they feel they have to make on that path paved with mistakes that is adolescence, because they found themselves in a group and had the pleasure of doing them, because they know that they will remain isolated episodes and there is no need to worry the parents "replies the psychologist." It is true that we would like them to learn to say no, but on the other hand, if for years we have accustomed them to always conform to what mum and dad wanted, how can we expect them to have autonomy of thought when they are with friends? " 

Read also: How to help your children make the right choices

What to do if we notice the lie? If it is small, we will gladly accept it

"It depends on the lie" Scalari points out: "If one afternoon he tells us that he is going to do his homework with a friend and instead we discover that they have gone to the cinema together, we can also accept it by pretending nothing has happened, because after all he has not committed anything dangerous. Of course, a parent may dislike the idea of ​​having been thrown out of the secret, but he has to put his mind in peace that it is normal for a teenager to become 'opaque' at some point ".

Read also: Teenage children, 5 tips for parents

If it's a bigger lie, it must be blamed and punished.

What to do if it is a more important lie? "In this case, we do what belongs to our role as parents, scolding, explaining why he was wrong, showing our disappointment at seeing our trust betrayed. And, if that is the case, by giving certain behaviors a punishment, which he will learn to endure. Because our parental task is always to educate them to the truth, especially towards us " continues the expert.

Read also: How to manage pre-adolescence, advice for parents

How to prevent him from lying to us

First of all, it is good that the parent does not load the child with exaggerated expectations: failing to meet them, he could be more easily led to hide behaviors that do not respond to expectations. For the rest, we assume that we will not be able to completely avoid his lies. Nor would it be desirable, precisely because they are indispensable for the achievement of autonomy of thought.

What if it ends up on bad roads? "In this case the problem is not the lie, but all the education we have imparted up to that moment, which should have allowed him to build his own 'backpack' of fundamental rules and values ​​to draw upon for all his actions and Once we have equipped him well, we can do nothing but trust him, even if we take into account that sometimes he will be wrong "points out Scalari.

We must always watch out for "dangerous" lies

However, there are lies that can hide risky behaviors and that need to be exposed. How?
If we realize that something is wrong, that our son is always detached from us, he has an evasive attitude, his mood is no longer what it was before, he does not want to attend the group of friends of all time, we need to be vigilant.
"Let's try to open a dialogue with him, without attacking, without questioning, but showing us present, expressing our doubts and concerns ”advises Scalari. “Sometimes it is the children themselves who leave marks of their lies (cigarettes or 'maps' carelessly forgotten at home), as if they wanted to be discovered to get out of a lie that they no longer hold. And, the moment they begin to open up, we don't attack them with our 'I told you so', with offenses or humiliations, but we assume an attitude that helps to find the way. To teach them that they can be wrong but they can get out of it; that a lie, even a big one, can always be remedied without feeling in a blind alley. Otherwise they may feel stuck in a situation they no longer have the courage to confess. And the lie risks getting bigger and bigger. Or to become more and more dangerous ".
Read also: my son smokes joints, what to do?

Updated on 11.10.2022

  • children education
  • teens
  • pre-adolescence
  • psyche
  • 6-14 children years
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