Plenty has been published about how to tell if a person is lying. Body language clues, changes in inflection, and eye shifts can all give away the secrets that the liar is trying to protect. The same behaviors can apply to teenagers, but since they lie much more than the average adult, they’re more practiced in the art. That means that you have to be a regular Sherlock Holmes to discern a teenager’s fabrication from the truth. Here are some clues that your teenagers may be lying to you:
1. They hesitate before answering. It’s almost a dead giveaway. If they have to think about the answer, chances are they are about to make up at least part of the story.
2. They over-explain. Rather than stopping at a simple, one-sentence explanation, they go out of their way to manufacture an entire story. As we know, teens are usually people of few words, especially when talking to parents, so when they suddenly become verbose, be skeptical.
3. They will throw a friend under the bus in order to preserve their integrity with you. Think along the lines of “Those are John’s cigarettes, not mine” or “Kathy was drinking, but I wasn’t.” This is a method of deflection, a red herring so to speak. The best arsenal you have against this type of lie is to ask for John’s or Kathy’s parents’ numbers and suggest that you’re going to call them. Teenagers NEVER, EVER let other teens take the fall for them, so if they think it might happen, they will absolutely fess up.
4. Upon further questioning, they contradict themselves. They can’t keep their story straight or the numbers don’t add up. When this happens, something is awry. Guaranteed.
5. They look you straight in the eye, their gaze never wavering. Teens are smart and they know that everyone thinks liars look away from lie-ees. Therefore, they deliberately do the opposite. But think about it. When was the last time your teenagers looked you straight in the eye during a discussion? If anything, you can barely get their attention amidst all of the texting and TV watching and Internet surfing. In fact, it’s likely you’ve forgotten their eye color. Until, that is, they tell you a lie.
Even the best kids lie, and it’s not always necessary to openly call them on it. Just knowing is good enough, and these tips should help you to take the lead in the Teen Tango.