Why do Children with ADHD or ADD tell Lies?
We have all experienced our children telling lies, haven’t we? I know I have. My daughter would lie till she was blue in the face and expect me to believe her crazy, outrageous stories! However, all children lie at some stage during their development, at least once in a while, but repeated lying that causes difficulties and conflict in the family is something that needs to be looked at.
But why do children lie?
Some children with ADHD don’t intend to lie they just become victims of some of their uncontrolled symptoms. Johns mum, for example, tells him to come straight home after school because they are going out for dinner to celebrate Dad’s birthday. He rushes out the door grabbing his school bag shouting “Yeah OK!” However, after a busy day at school, he walks in over an hour late. When his mum and dad talk to him about it, he says she didn’t tell him to come straight home. Now….is he lying? No – he forgot! It’s a timekeeping and organisation problem, not an honesty issue.
How to manage it
Having worked with many children and their parents, I have discovered that serious lying sometimes comes from not being able to manage ADHD symptoms. When a child is caught out lying, he should be corrected for the lying but more important – parents or teachers should help him manage the symptoms that are CAUSING him to lie.
Unable to finish a task or stay on track.
Lucy’s teacher gives her a note to take home, stating that she has several pieces of homework that are behind, and they need to be done and handed in. She is too embarrassed to talk to her mum and dad about it, so she hides the note from them. She also hides her school report that comes to the house. Is Lucy’s dishonesty bad?
Yes, of course, all dishonestly is bad, however, Lucy has got behind in her homework due to a lack of organisation with her work, so she has kept the truth about her late homework from her parents because she fears they will be angry. So how could lucy’s parents prevent this from happening? Yes, they could ensure that all her homework is up to date and that Lucy is better organised.
Parents should work out why lying occurs and why it continues. If a child is really struggling at school with various problems, like getting homework in on time, getting to school on time, or talking in class, parent should deal with lying as an “academic” or “social skills” problem. On the other hand, if their child’s lies are malicious and intentional, involving alcohol with teens, or worse still – drugs, they should be dealt with very strictly and consistently, as it’s the only way to discourage this negative behaviour. You can have a good talk with your teen about the serious consequences of breaking the trust between you and him/her, and or the rest of the family. You can tell him how he can repair it too:
- Consequences for telling lies. Talk this over with your child or teen early on when the lying first occurs.
- Taking ownership of the lies. Explain to him that offering a heartfelt apology for the lies is important to you and the rest of the family.
- Be consistent with the consequences. Don’t tell him off one day and ignore the lie the next day.
- Confront the lie when it occurs. Find out why he has lied. The most important thing is to confront the behaviour, not to blame or badly criticise him.
- Reward honesty. Even if your child has lied – make him understand the importance of honesty and how lies are nearly always found out in the end.
- Be a good role model. Parents who tell lies can’t chastise their offspring for doing the same. Explain the difference between a white lie and a not so white lie!
Be a lie detector!
A lie often sounds a bit unbelievable with some contradictory statements, but an honest statement is usually clear and consistent. Usually, with a lie from a teenager, it can sound like a rehearsed speech! If your child/teen is being honest he will look you straight in the eyes and be natural and relaxed, whereas if he is feeling nervous, he may have a tense look on his face. Most children or teens who are lying will look down towards the floor and avoid eye contact. If he is being honest, he will be having a natural conversation with you.
Case study: Joshua 10 years old.
Two years ago, Melanie brought her son Joshua to me because his behaviour had been very unpredictable – he’d been angry, sad, emotional, anxious and had been lying a lot and Melanie was very concerned because she had taught all three of her children that lying was something she and their dad absolutely detested.
When Joshua first walked into my clinic, he did look very anxious, but he soon perked up and we had a game with some toys and a good chat and basically got to know each a little. Joshua explained to me that he didn’t lie on purpose, but he said sometimes things just went so wrong that he found himself telling lies just to get out of being in trouble. It was obvious from when Joshua came into my clinic that he was struggling with some sort of attention deficit problem as his lack of concentration seemed way off the mark.
Fast forward to the end of the six sessions that I did with Joshua, he was assessed and diagnosed with an ADD condition, and I had given Melanie and By the end of the six sessions that I did with Josh, he had been assessed and diagnosed with ADD, and I had taught Melanie and Brian (his dad) some techniques to use to get Joshua to be more organised, less anxious and a little calmer. The lying stopped and Melanie said:
“That six – week programme that Joshua did with Elaine at Focus Hypnotherapy for children was the best thing I could have done for my son. Elaine ascertained within the first couple of sessions that Josh probably had ADHD and so I was able to take him to be assessed and diagnosed. She then taught us how to get Josh to organise his thoughts so that he didn’t keep making mistakes, getting behind with his schoolwork, and just flit from one thing to the next all the time. He, therefore, didn’t need to keep telling lies to get himself out of trouble, which was something I was really beginning to worry about!
She also worked with Josh on his anxiety, and he became much calmer and was sleeping much better. Yes, I have to say that I would highly recommend Elaine to any one of my friends who has a child who is struggling with any emotional or behaviour problems, she is obviously an expert in her field, and you can tell she is passionate about helping children.” Melanie and Brian Parkes, Oxford.
For further info on ADHD, Anger issues, lying and how my sessions can help – https://www.focus-hypnotherapy.co.uk/children
Elaine Hodgins – www.focus-hypnotherapy.co.uk