What Parents Can Do About Adolescent Compulsive Lying
Let’s face it, human beings are prone to fibs, embellishments and fabrications, and little white lies. Some are even blatant liars. Lying is just one of many human foibles that we grapple with in our fallen nature.
But when it’s our kids who tell lies, well now that takes on a whole different sense of urgency. No parent enjoys being lied to by their child. It is disrespectful and, if lying is habitual, result in a broken trust bond between parent and child. Trust is the glue that cements parent-child relationships, so when one is not able to trust one’s child serious damage to the core foundation of that relationship can result.
An important distinction must be made between a fib and a malicious lie. All kids and teens will fib to cover their guilt—fibs are almost a reflexive survival tool. [Mom: Who broke the sugar bowl? Kid: Not me, it must have been the cat.] But at what point does lying become destructive?
Adolescent compulsive lying is a serious behavioral problem that can indicate a mental health disorder, particularly a personality disorder. For example, a sociopath is a person without a sense of empathy or conscience, so lying comes very naturally to these individuals. They may utilize lying to serve a particular goal, or they may lie indiscriminately. Pathological liars are not even aware that they are lying at all. So when a teen exhibits compulsive lying on a regular basis there is legitimate cause for concern. Parents should enlist the guidance of a mental health professional to help discern what might be the underlying factors that instigate the chronic lying, and then create a treatment plan for helping the teen change his or her behaviors.