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Is Lying Typical for Tweens?


My 11-year-old daughter has recently started lying to us about little things (brushing her teeth, flossing, taking care of her chores) and bigger things (telling us the parent of a friend she was visiting was home when the parent never was there). As a consequence, she loses access to technology and is not allowed to see her friends for a week. Is lying a typical tween behavior? I am hoping this is just a phase, but I could use some advice as to how handle this.


tween texting

First, we are proud of you for catching this behavior while it is a small problem and for responding by giving your daughter consequences. That sends a clear message to your daughter:  This behavior is NOT okay, and because she has been dishonest, she loses privileges that are important to her.

The older children get, the more they test their parents to see what they can get by with. When they do get by with something and there are no consequences, then they feel like they've outsmarted their parents. They like that feeling, so they'll try to do it again.

We would encourage you as a family to talk about the topic of honesty and how it affects your lives, friendships, education and employment. When others view a person as being honest, they will not doubt that person when there is a conflict. This is how someone gains the trust of family and friends.

Let your daughter know that you are going to ask her at least three questions throughout the day that you already know the answers to so that she can "practice" being honest. Over time, her honesty will allow her to earn back some of the privileges she lost. This may take longer than a week, and perhaps even longer than a month, depending on how frequently and consistently she is honest.

Honesty also involves having her truthfully report her whereabouts when she leaves the house, asking for permission to do things and sharing all the information you might ask for without leaving out anything. Openness is often connected to honesty.

It takes a long time to build trust but it only takes a moment to destroy it. Your daughter has a lot of work to do in order to rebuild that trust, but by continuing to help her practice and using consequences when necessary, you will help her get there.

Good luck. Make this a family issue to discuss and focus on. It will heighten everyone's awareness of the value of honesty.