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Top Six Reasons Teens Lie to Their Parents

Written by Evolve's Behavioral Health Content Team​:

Alyson Orcena, LMFT, Melissa Vallas, MD, Shikha Verma, MD, Ellen Bloch, LCSW, Lianne Tendler, LMFT, Megan Johnston, LMFT

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Let’s be real: your teenager has probably lied or will lie to you about something at some point during their teen years. If they haven’t and never will, then you’re lucky – research shows roughly 96% of teens lie to their parents at least once in any given year. Unless you’re in that fortunate 4%, read on.

We have knowledge to offer on the subject.

The first step in working through the teen lying phase – if it’s happening – is to understand why teenagers lie. Here are the top reasons teens lie to their parents:

Top Six Reasons Teens Lie to Their Parents

  1. To Avoid Getting in Trouble. Just like when they were toddlers or preschoolers, teens may lie simply to avoid the consequences of breaking rules.
  2. To Avoid Embarrassment. Teens may make up stories when they’ve done something they think makes them look foolish, uncool, or dumb.
  3. To Protect or Defend Friends. If a friend is in serious trouble with their parents, the school, or authorities, teenagers may come to their defense with alibis, stories, versions of what happened, or outright denials to help their friend get out of a jam.
  4. To Cover Up Emotions. A teen may not be totally forthcoming about how they feel about things. They may be uncomfortable with their emotions, embarrassed by them, or afraid feeling a certain way may make them look immature or uncool.
  5. To Make Themselves Look Better. Teenagers may embellish or exaggerate things they’ve done or things they’re capable of doing to gain social capital.
  6. To Establish Autonomy. There are times teens may lie for no good reason other than to keep part of their lives to themselves, unencumbered and uninfluenced by the input of parents or teachers.

Our Behavioral Health Content Team

We are an expert team of behavioral health professionals who are united in our commitment to adolescent recovery and well-being.

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