When children and teens tell me why they lie to their parents, it is usually that they feel “caught,” are trying to avoid punishment, or feel threatened. Often lying is a sign of low self-worth. Children and teens who tend to lie think they need to make themselves look better because they don't know they are good enough as they are.
After twenty-three years of working with families as a psychologist, I can tell you this harsh truth: Lies erode trust and damage emotional safety in parent-child relationships! None of us are perfect in resisting the temptation to lie. We are, after all, only human. Below are four suggestions, however, on how to strengthen that valuable sense of emotional safety to help encourage your children to resist lying to you:
Dr. Jeffrey Bernstein is a psychologist, personal, and executive coach, and motivational speaker in the greater Philadelphia area. He has been on the Today Show, Radio, and has written four popular books, including 10 Days to a Less Defiant Child. You can also follow him on Twitter.