Dishonesty and ADHD can be a common pair. Sometimes, teens with ADHD may be truly unsure of what the truth is and what’s not. Lying can be connected to executive functioning issues. Lying can serve as a coping mechanism for kids with ADHD. For example, you ask your child if they cleaned their room and they lie and say “yes”. Simple tasks can be complex or overwhelming for children with ADHD. So, rather than asking for guidance, they will lie and say they completed the task. This can often feel like the easiest solution to their challenges. The role of executive functioning issues is quite significant in these situations. Kids may struggle with the following:
- Connecting the now to the future
- Thinking of, or remembering, consequences
- Organization and time management
- Understanding how they got to the place of lying, to begin with
- Understanding that it’s the lying that got them in trouble (not what they lied about)
- Knowing how to fix the original problem behind the lie
It is important that you don’t dismiss your child as defiant and inherently dishonest, when that simply may not be the case. This type of lying isn’t about defiance. It’s about having trouble coping with challenges.
How to Help Decrease the Dishonesty
Your job as a parent is not to burden your child with blame. This can create a constant power struggle and let on many more problems. There are some measures you can enforce at home to help get your child on a track being open and honest.
Here are some constructive ways to help your child stop lying.
- Anticipate where he might struggle and give help. If your child struggles with orderly tasks like setting the table, break it down. Give them a list of clear steps. Look for patterns in when they lie to figure out where there may be trouble spots.
- Don’t take lying personally. Try to remember that the dishonesty isn’t out of defiance or disrespect. Focus on what led to the lie rather than the lie itself.
- Avoid situations where lying is an option. If you asked your child to clean their room before watching tv, don’t ask if they did it. Go check. And if they didn’t, turn off the tv until the task is complete.
- Tie everything together. Help your child make connections. Talk about what happened and help them recognize what went wrong. Help them brainstorm ways to handle things differently next time.
Discover Seven Stars is a multidisciplinary residential treatment center and assessment program for adolescents ages 13-17 who struggle with neurodevelopmental disorders. By combining acute care stabilization with residential treatment, classroom academics, outdoor adventure therapy, skill building and positive psychology, our therapeutic program assesses, understands and builds the confidence and skills of students struggling with neurodevelopmental disorders.
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