Raising a teen is no walk in the park. While you can teach your teen all the important things she needs to know, you can't force your budding adult to follow suit. This is especially true when it comes to honesty and truthfulness. Your teen may feel the need to lie for any number of reasons -- to avoid consequences or protect a friend, for instance. By placing a hefty emphasis on truthfulness in your family, you can help your teen learn that honesty truly is the best policy.
Create a Safe Environment
In a 2011 issue of Psychology Today, psychotherapist Joanne Stern expounds upon the importance of creating an environment in which it's safe for your teen to tell the truth. While your first instinct might be to punish when your teen divulges bad behavior, it's better to take in the information and then talk about it or walk away until you can cool off. If you lose your temper or become accusatory, your teen experiences negativity in telling the truth. It might stop him from being honest with you in the future.
Talk About the Benefits
Teens get major benefits from being truthful, even if they don't always see it that way. Have a talk with your teen about the benefits of truthfulness in your home. For instance, if she's truthful about where she's going and the friends she's with, you're more likely to trust her with more responsibility, like a later curfew. However, if she's not truthful, you learn to be suspicious of her words and she doesn't get as much freedom. Your teen should know how you value truthfulness and understand the benefits she gets from being honest.
Discipline With a Purpose
If you catch your teen in a lie, remember that the punishment probably isn't as memorable as the words you use. The Alabama Cooperative Extension suggests that you explain to your teen why you're disappointed that he didn't tell the truth before you levy any punishment for the crime. Tell your teen that you want to have a strong relationship and that you want to trust him with more responsibility, but that won't happen until he learns to be truthful. You could also give him a chance to come clean before you use any disciplinary methods to punish the behavior.
If you want your teen to be truthful, you need to model the same behavior yourself. While a few white lies throughout the day might not seem like a huge deal, your teen is watching and might learn that being dishonest is okay in your household. Make a point to be honest with everyone from your spouse to the cashier at the grocery store. Your teen will learn the importance of truthfulness by watching you and seeing how you value honesty.
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