The child who held your hand on the street grows up seeing with his eyes. He becomes more and more independent, spends more and more time with his friends and less with you… And one day you find out that he lied to you. You don’t understand how he, who was always so kind and obedient, ended up lying to you.
You suddenly realize that, for some time now, he doesn’t really want to be petted and kissed on the top – and besides, you can’t do it anymore, because he’s taller than you. He doesn’t even like cereal with milk anymore, he has opinions that he firmly supports, in a loud tone, he knows everything better than you and has reactions that you don’t understand. And now he’s lying.
Why did he resort to hiding the truth?
After the first shock passes and you’ve talked to him about what happened, you realize that it’s not as serious as you initially thought. Maybe you even remember that you too lied to your parents at one time, when you were his age, without feeling too guilty. You realize that your teenager is going through a period of important and irreversible changes, on that you can’t control – neither you nor him.
And yet, an essential question arises: what is the limit between an innocent lie and a serious one, which could hide, for example, that he has an inappropriate entourage, that he has started to consume alcohol or even drugs? And: would it be good or not to punish him? Psychologists say that a good start to solving the problem and not allowing it to seriously affect your relationship is to understand why he lied.
Some teenagers do it out of fear of being scolded or because they don’t want to accept the consequences of their actions. Others to avoid fulfilling some obligations. Many of them lie out of fear of being rejected, in order not to disappoint or, simply, because they are afraid of their parents’ reaction and the fact that they might become intrusive.
There are teenagers who resort to lying just to challenge the authority of their parents, while others will do it out of the need to create another reality, more attractive for them. Or just to attract attention. In some cases, the desire for autonomy causes the adolescent to distance himself from his parents, and he resorts to lying to create a space of his own freedom.
What to do
When the parent discovers a lie of the teenager, instead of reacting with indignation and anger, it would be more constructive to make the effort to find out and understand what reasons or needs lie behind these lies. Is he afraid of your reaction or disappointment? Are they having difficulties at school that they are trying to hide so you don’t worry? Looking for more freedom? Understanding the reason why the teenager lied opens the way to dialogue and a constructive approach to this problem.
During adolescence, lying is therefore not an abnormal behavior – provided that it remains occasional. If the lies are frequent or the teenager uses them to manipulate and obtain undue advantages, we should be concerned. It can be a signal that the teenager is going through a difficult period or even a sign of a deeper imbalance that requires the help of a specialist.
Florentina Bocai, psychotherapist with skills in adolescent and adult psychotherapy, www. florentinabocai.ro
The adolescent discovers and knows himself differently in this stage of life. Searches, turmoil, gaining a new status by moving from the role of a child to the role of an adult, the need for independence, all represent changes that can sometimes lead to conflict between generations. There is always an emotional motivation behind the behavior. Observe what is the cause that determines the destructive behavior of the child.
Ask yourself carefully: What purpose or reward does it seek? (What is the motivation behind the behavior?) There are stages in life that are more difficult to pass, but, through understanding and support, we can find constructive solutions together. Punishment is aggressive, because it is given with authority and will discourage, limit and bully the child, giving him the impression that, no matter what he does, he will never be good enough.
He will feel distrustful of his powers. Punishment only teaches him that “he shouldn’t do it”, but he won’t understand “why he shouldn’t”. Encourage him even when he has made a mistake and your position will help him to have positive feelings about himself and to find alternative behavior. Remember: Respect your child and he will feel encouraged and supported!