8 Effective Ways Parents Can Reduce Teenage Lying in Girls

Written by, Kendra Meiklejohn Clinical Director at Chrysalis Therapeutic Boarding School

It’s common for parents of girls ages 13-18 to ask why their daughter lies about everything, what to do about a lying teenager, and what consequences are appropriate for a 13-year-old lying. Another question parents can ask if they are wondering if their teen is lying is: ‘What keeps teenage girls from speaking their truth?’

In this article, we’ll discuss eight ways parents can reduce teenage lying and why teenagers lie.

Why Do Teenage Girls Lie?

Teen girls may lie as an effective way to gain a feeling of control or when she is seeking acceptance from someone. This tactic becomes especially valuable when they experience fear or feel vulnerable in relationships or situations.  

The Psychology Behind Why Teenagers Lie

The psychology behind teens’ lying can be because they are still developing their sense of self and individuality, leading them to seek validation or avoid conflict. They may also lie to maintain their privacy or as a coping mechanism to protect themselves from perceived threats.

The Role of Peer Pressure in Teenage Deception  

As a teenager, peer pressure results from seeking experiences of acceptance. When acceptance is not a core experience for a young person, teen lying can be a tool to gain acceptance.  Having your teenager lying to you can be tiresome, and it is important to recognize more than the behavior you see when being lied to. Some behaviors that often coincide with compulsive lying can include:

  • Substance Use
  • Risky behavior 
  • Losing friends 
  • Failing school 
  • Mismatched affect and behavior 

Is Lying Helpful for Teens?

Believe it or not, we all have lied for reasons that had a purpose, including teens. All people have a bond between their ‘real self’ and ‘ideal self.’ Both are important in striving for goals, learning, and always becoming the person we hope to be. And if we, in reality, are very far from who we hope to be, anxiety can creep in. Letting our true selves shine through when we are anxious is more challenging.  

Teens may think lying is helpful due to the temporary relief it provides from anxiety and pressure to meet expectations. By painting a more favorable picture of themselves, teens may believe they can avoid judgment or punishment.

Exploring the Emotional Triggers of Lying

Sometimes, it may seem as though there is no logical reason for why your teen lies or maybe lying to you. That often can be a sign of having experiences in the past that taught them lying to friends or family may be the best option. Even though lying in the present is not serving them anymore, the habit may be engrained in their learned ability to seek safety.

Being our true selves is risky. Teenagers may feel especially anxious about being themselves during a time when they are growing and their minds are developing. The society we live in, and even our own families, may not respond with acceptance of our truthful selves. As a teenager, we all learn how to balance what we share about ourselves with who and when. 

How Can I Tell if My Teenage Daughter is Lying or Telling the Truth?

When it comes to knowing whether your daughter is lying to you, it depends greatly on your ability as a parent to attune to your child. Ask yourself: 

  • Have you spent quality time together recently? 
  • How often do you validate your child’s thoughts and feelings regardless of whether you agree?
  • How often do you celebrate your child’s successes and more importantly, their resilience in perceived failure?
  • Have you modeled accountability for your child?

What Are Some Common Things Teen Girls Lie About?

Teen who is lying to parent while texting on phone.
Teen who is lying to parent while texting on phone.

Given the opportunity, young women in their teens have plenty to lie about.  To support the ever-present ideals that our society placed on the female population, it must be assumed that every teenage girl must lie to experience acceptance. As vulnerable teenagers, young girls taught to please others and obey authority must either choose to lie or bear the negative impact of presenting themselves as less than the ideal expected during their teen years.

To name a few expectations: to be sexy but not have sex, to be a boss but not be bossy, be smart but don’t overshadow the men, be a mother but don’t lose that figure, keep the house clean, cook, take care of the children but don’t be tired. The list goes on, in the eyes of our culture and absorbed by young women every day. To keep up the charade, lying may be a useful tool to maintain their perceived identity, mitigate risk, and seek safety.

Here are some of the other main things a teen girl may lie about: 

  • Social media Identity
  • Cheating in school
  • Having sex
  • Smoking
  • Drinking
  • Feeling sad
  • True aspirations
  • Who their real friends are
  • Sexting
  • Feeling unaccepted

What are the Types of Teen Lying?

Lying can come in a variety of forms. For teens, including 13–18-year-olds, lying can be seen in the following types:

Compulsive Lying

Compulsive lying can seem irrational and excessive, and often a sign of deeper issues in teens. Some past experiences or trauma may impact a teen’s need to lie compulsively. Compulsive lying in teens may be a deeper well of negative past experiences where lying became necessary for our survival or well-being, and can even develop into an addiction.


Deception is always directed at gaining the prize for a teenager who lies to her friends or family. For a teenager, lying about grades, drinking or substance use, or relationships could be deception.

White Lies

Teens may feel some situations only call for a ‘little white lie.’  For teens white lies could look like faked compliments, pretending to like something, or protecting friends by lying.


Fabricating a story to cover the truth is most useful when a true story just won’t do to maintain a teen’s desired identity. Teen lies through fabrication could look like extravagant stories, fake relationships, or rumors.


Teens may exaggerate the truth to gain some much-needed attention from someone they hope to connect with. Exaggeration in teen girls who are lying could look like overstating achievements, magnifying interactions, or exaggerating physical appearance.


For teens who are not great at telling a convincing lie, saying nothing at all can also do the trick. Omission lying in teenage girls can be withholding information, silence in response to questions asked, or hiding past mistakes.

Is it Normal for Teen Girls to Lie?

If you think your 13- or 18-year-old daughter lies about everything, remember it can be normal for teen girls to lie.  And it’s equally important to understand why your teen is lying. Recognizing the need for that behavior can lead to better solutions, truthfulness, and connection in your relationship.

8 Strategies for Reducing Teenage Lying in Girls

If your teenager is lying to you or her friends, there can be a loss of trust, and friction in your home, fear, and worry can consume you. What can you do to help? Here are eight ways parents can reduce teenage lying: 

1. Understand the Reasons Behind Teenage Lying

Gaining more understanding of why your teenager feels the need to lie to you can teach you to make necessary changes in your relationship and home to redirect her toward honesty. This can look like practicing active listening and empathizing with your teen daughter.

2. Foster an Environment of Open Communication

What you do in your daughter’s presence and in your home to provide the space to share unpopular opinions, vulnerabilities, wants and desires can leave the space your teen needs to feel heard and safe, fostering honest conversations. You can do this by: 

  • Asking open-ended questions
  • Providing a safe space to talk
  • Being non-judgmental about answers

3. Set Clear and Consistent Boundaries

What you do inside your home is only as useful as how you hold boundaries. While you can practice empathy and compassion for your teen, it must be held by reliable and consistent boundaries. These could be less social media use or expectations around communication regarding grades and school.

4. Teach the Value of Honesty Through Example

Your consistency in being truthful with your family about your own life will allow others to do so. Particularly, things that require you to be resilient and imperfect in the face of adversity can show your child how to fail forward and have a growth mindset.

5. Encourage Accountability and Responsibility

Help your daughter grow into honesty with plenty of encouragement when telling the truth becomes difficult. When your child opens up about a difficult situation, avoid giving advice, and ask what they think is best to find a solution. Show her you trust her instinct and she can make hard decisions.

6. Utilize Positive Reinforcement Techniques

When you recognize a truth told, acknowledge it and give praise. Praise your teen when you see that they are being honest can help reduce teenage lying.

7. Be A Positive Role Model for Your Daughter

Lead by example, show your teen how to be honest and truthful in everyday life and action. You can also discuss truthfulness regularly with your daughter to help be that truthful influence in their life. Model honesty by being truthful about your own experiences and feelings, and your teen will see that it is okay to be open and honest.

8. Build a Trustful Relationship With Your Daughter

Even though you may have been feeling a lack of trust between you, your daughter wants to be trusted. When rebuilding a trusting relationship, it takes time and evidence of honesty to build your relationship. Time and evidence. Make sure to set a specific time out where you’re just spending time with your teen daughter.

Is your teen struggling with chronic lying or other mental health issues?

Consequences and Discipline: Striking the Right Balance

Many parents wonder what they can do about a lying teenager. It can also be common to wonder what consequences are appropriate for a lying 13- or 18-year-old.

While you are focusing on modeling accountability, sharing your own vulnerabilities, attuning, and listening to your daughter, holding boundaries will be key. Remember, connect before you correct your teen’s lying.

When to Implement Consequences for Lying

When re-establishing boundaries and your needs from your daughter, it can be more helpful to have clearly identified consequences for a lying 13–18-year-old prior to any event. Take some time to think ahead about your response could be in some situations, so you are prepared. 

Some healthy consequences for a lying teenager could be:

  • Less screen time
  • Curfew on time with friends
  • Practicing truthful and accountable communication

Alternatives to Punishment That Encourage Truthfulness

Some of the best things parents can do when their teen is lying without punishing a teenager include:

  • Spending quality time together
  • See her greatness (not perfection) and share it often
  • Sharing your own vulnerabilities
  • Validating her stories and struggles
  • Listening without giving advice
  • Amplify the positive
  • Empower her decision-making stating, ‘How are you going to handle that?’

How Can I Rebuild Trust After My Daughters Have Lied to Me?

Remember that teen lying may have a deeper root we cannot see. Healing is a process not an event. Time and evidence will show that you are building trust.  You can help her by being an advocate for her healing, growth, and resilience. 

You can rebuild trust with your daughter by fostering open and honest communication, showing empathy and understanding for her struggles, and setting clear expectations for truthful behavior moving forward. Remember to be patient and consistent in your efforts to rebuild trust with your daughter, as it will take time and effort from both sides.

What If My Teen Daughter Continues to Lie?

Teen girl talking to therapist about lying.
Teen girl talking with adult about lying.

Do expect your daughter to continue to lie at times. If it has become a habit, it will be difficult for her to practice sharing the truth consistently. Acknowledge directly to her that honesty can be difficult for very real reasons and the payoff for living your truth will improve her life.

However, suppose your teen is compulsively lying, and it has ruptured many of your daughters’ relationships. In that case, a bigger intervention may be needed. Seeking treatment is a strong and supportive move as a parent. Start with therapy, specifically family therapy. Change is a family project. 

Teenage Lying: Moving Forward

For parents, navigating teenage lying can be challenging. It’s crucial for parents to approach the issue with empathy, understanding, and patience. By actively listening, amplifying the positive, and empowering their teen’s decision-making, parents can foster truthful behavior over time. Rebuilding trust after instances of lying requires open communication, empathy, and setting clear expectations with reasonable consequences, while also keeping the lines of communication open.

If lying persists or becomes compulsive, seeking professional help like therapy can facilitate positive change within the family dynamic. Remember, healing and growth take time – it’s a journey worth investing in for your teen’s well-being. If you think your teen is struggling with chronic lying or would benefit from treatment, contact the Chrysalis team at 406-998-6313. We’ll walk you through each step of the healing journey.

EBH Marketing