Posted by: Amy | 2019/09/19

My teenage daughter lies all the time and I don't know why

When our daughter was young, she would have a tendency to lie about things. We thought is was cute and that she had a vivid imagination. Now that she is a teenager, the pattern has continued. The only difference is, now it's the big things she isn't truthful about. When we confront her, she lies right to our faces. She refuses to see a therapist. Any thoughts on what to do?

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Our expert says:
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- 2019/09/21

Firstly, Amy, discard the concept of "confrontation" often marketed by quack psychobabble folks : it is rarely useful, and often a cause of further problems. It is aggressive, rather than assertive ; it is usually experienced as an attack one needs to defend against, rather than a firm defense of your own point of view, needing to be taken seriously.
Children tend to have a vivid imagination, anyway, and are often not very skilled at distinguishing between things which everyone else would agree are true, and things which simply feel convincing to themselves.
Good parents usually manage to help the kids learn the value of truth, encouraging and rewarding truth-telling, and discouraging self-serving untruths.
This sort of fault, more noticeable in some kids than others, tends to arise again in adolescence, when kids become more assertive and confrontational towards their parents.  As the TV guru Judge Judy tends to say, repeatedly, the way you can tell that a teenager is lying, is that their lips are moving.
Generally, people lie when it is rewarding to do so, and when the rewards clearly out-weigh the risks and negative outcomes.
The sort of situation you are complaining about is quite common ; and usually means there are broader communication and discipline problems in the family, which deserve to be dealt with, with expert advice from a counsellor, in order to resolve the part of the problem that are troubling you. 
She may agree to see a counsellor if she is helped to see it, not as a form of punishment, but as part of sorting out what she may well see as the problems she experiences with her parents.  You could then, together, achieve a better understanding of each other, and a better resolution of the problems, than by conflict and confrontation.
If she absolutely refuses to do so, even when approached tactfully,  it can still be useful for you and your husband to work with a counsellor, to clarify the problematic issues arising within the family, and planning a joint approach to working on them, and on engaging your daughter gradually in that process.

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