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What can I do if my teen is being reckless, disrespectful and lies to me?

Updated: May 20

What can I do if my teen is being reckless, disrespectful and lies to me?

Lies, disrespect and reckless behaviours in teens can be all linked through common underlying factors such as impulsivity, a desire for independence, and the ongoing development of decision-making abilities. Looking at these behaviours separately would be powerless due to them feeding off each other. Understanding these connections helps in addressing underlying issues and promoting healthier decision-making and communication skills in teens.

Let me show you how to understand and address these concerns!

teen lying, disrespecting and reckless.

Realising your teen has been lying and/ or taking part in reckless behaviours can be extremely stressful. Very often, your teen lying to your face can be perceived as a personal disrespect and personal attack. 

However, it is important to take the time to understand why your teen lies, disrespects and being reckless to be able to put in place the right actions, to avoid any further lying.

Why do teens lie about what they have been doing?

Very often, teens may lie in order to create space to explore and experience life.

Let me tell you more about this.

When parents aren’t providing a healthy and safe space for teens to explore and experience, teens very often take action and create that space themselves, often in unsafe or chaotic manners, leading them to lie and hide their actions. This dynamic can create a snowball effect. Once teens are caught in lies, parents may want to restrict and give fewer privileges to their teen. Teens can then feel less freedom to explore and experiment, and may grow resentment and frustration, leading to disrespect and aggression. This dynamic can then lead to a break in trust and miscommunications from both teens and parents.

If you find yourself in this dynamic, let me explain to you what is most likely happening in your teen’s mind.

The reason for teens to very often go towards unsafe and chaotic activities or situations to build their identity is partly due to their immaturity, lack of experience, and newness to the world, which leads them to seek exciting and adrenaline-inducing activities.

Adolescents often seek adrenaline experiences due to a combination of physiological changes and a natural desire for excitement. The adolescent brain undergoes development, leading to a heightened sensitivity to rewards and novel stimuli.

The frontal lobe, responsible for decision-making and impulse control, undergoes significant development during adolescence. The prefrontal cortex, a part of the frontal lobe, matures gradually and is not fully developed until the mid-20s. This delayed development can result in teens being more impulsive and prone to seeking thrilling situations, as the brain's ability to assess risks and consequences is still evolving. This biological factor contributes to the characteristic behaviour of teenagers taking risks and seeking novel experiences.

In addition to this, seeking adrenaline can provide a sense of thrill and adventure, contributing to their exploration of boundaries and self-discovery during this transitional phase of life.

If you have caught your teen lying about what they have been doing after school, who they have been hanging out with, or what they are browsing about online, I suggest for you to apply the following:

-Support your teen in clearing out the current chaos occurring in their life by protecting them from the people or situations creating the perceived turmoil. Depending on your child's life, chaos can stem from various situations. Any situation perceived as unplanned, uncontrollable, or never-ending by the teen can be seen as chaotic. Death of a family member, peer pressure, self-pressure to be in a parental role, etc., are some of many examples. You are welcome to support your teen by helping them put in place boundaries, build positive self-talk, and help them identify healthy ways for them to discover who they are and how they have the capacities to face life challenges. You are welcome to read the other resources available on this website or subscribe to the monthly membership to gain more knowledge and tools to do so.

-Allocate time, space, and freedom for your teen to do activities outside of the house, with supervision and guidelines focused on specific activities allowing exploration, discovery, and experimentation of life. Find healthy, trustworthy adults for your teen to do these activities with, and choose activities that can be adrenaline-inducing while staying safe. This part is key as it will allow your teen space to explore, experiment with their strengths, weaknesses, and self-discovery.

It will be crucial for your teen to get to do these activities on a regular basis, over a long period of time, in order to allow them to channel their natural curiosity and desire for novelty. Engaging in adrenaline activities can provide an opportunity for them to learn about their own capabilities and limits, fostering resilience and confidence. Furthermore, participating in such activities can offer a healthy outlet for stress and energy, helping teens manage emotions and build coping mechanisms. Overall, when supervised responsibly, these experiences can contribute to a well-rounded and confident development during the adolescent years.

I am aware that it might seem surprising for me to advise you to allow your teen to do new activities after catching them lying, instead of imposing restrictions. I firmly believe that introducing negative consequences in this scenario could widen the gap between you and your teen.

-Explain to your teen the reasons why they are not allowed to do certain risky activities. Explain why you have made the decision to not let your teen do this activity, why you have assessed this activity to be dangerous, and explain what they could replace it with. Doing so can allow your teen to understand more about how to assess situations themselves and show them how certain actions can lead to dangerous or risky situations.

What will it teach your teen?

Providing space for experimenting and exploring is healthy for teens because it fosters personal growth, self-discovery, and the development of crucial life skills. It allows them to test boundaries, make choices, and learn from their experiences, contributing to the formation of their identity. Encouraging exploration also helps teens build resilience, decision-making skills, and a sense of responsibility, preparing them for the challenges of adulthood. Providing explanations for rules helps teens understand the reasoning behind them, fostering a sense of transparency and trust. Teaching teens how to assess if a situation is safe or unsafe empowers them with essential life skills and decision-making abilities. Understanding safety criteria helps them make informed choices, navigate potential risks, and develop a sense of responsibility for their well-being.

Additionally, it promotes a greater sense of autonomy, enabling teens to take an active role in safeguarding themselves and others. This type of communication is crucial for their cognitive development and encourages a more cooperative attitude. Understanding the purpose behind rules enables teens to internalise values and make informed decisions, promoting responsible behaviour.

This supportive environment promotes autonomy and a positive approach to learning, helping teens develop into well-rounded individuals. It also establishes a foundation for open communication between parents and teens, strengthening the parent-child relationship and facilitating a smoother transition into adulthood."

Check out the subscription area for more info about how to support your teen HERE.

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