Q&A: Stopping my teen daughter from lying


How can I get my teenage daughter to stop lying? I’ve caught her telling “tall tales,” and now she’s complaining that the children at school don’t believe anything she says. What should I do?

Answer: We’d suggest you start by trying to uncover the underlying motive for her lying. Chances are it’s a play for attention. She may not feel confident and secure about who she is – and may be trying desperately to gain her peers’ respect.

If this scenario seems plausible, the roots of the problem may lie within the circle of your immediate family. Life’s demands can easily siphon off the attention our children need, and it may be that your daughter just wants to be reassured of your love. Consider looking for opportunities to spend some one-on-one time together. Ask her if there’s anything she’d like to talk about. If her problem with lying has a domestic basis, you may be able to affect a solution without ever moving beyond the home front.

But if this approach falls flat – if the lies seem designed purely to get a response from her peers – then you’ll want to paint a vivid picture of the negative effect lying will have on her relationships with them: If her friends feel she can’t be trusted, they won’t want to spend time with her. This, of course, is exactly the opposite of what she’s looking for. Help her understand that, and you may start seeing some real progress.

Regardless, firm consequences for lying, such as taking away privileges, may also be necessary. Don’t get pulled into a debate with her about whether or not she told the truth. Just deal with the behaviour in a decisive way – act, don’t yak.

If we can help in any way, please call our Family Support Services at 03-3310 0792 or write to support@family.org.my.

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