When your ADHD child lies - HomeworkCoach

When your ADHD child lies

When your ADHD child lies

All children lie occasionally. But some ADHD-diagnosed kids lie a lot! Researcher Russell Barkley and his associates found that up to 50% of ADHD children lie compared to 5% of their non-ADHD peers. Lying can become a great source of difficulty and frustration for those who work with or are raising ADHD-diagnosed kids. In this post, we’ll discuss the reasons why your child lies and how you can address the issue.

Why Do ADHD-Diagnosed Children Lie?

Many ADHD children use lying as a coping mechanism. They may be so used to failure and criticism as a result of the behavioral and functional symptoms of ADHD that they will lie about a bad grade or homework assignment rather than admit that they have failed  They may also lie to avoid getting into trouble or being criticized for-not doing their best.
A Psychology Today article suggests that ADHD diagnosed children lie as a result of communication and processing issues  When an ADHD diagnosed child “zones out” due to a distraction, he may lie to try to fill in the blanks. “I don’t remember if I turned in my homework. Maybe I did… and mom will be mad if I say I don’t know, so I’ll just say I did.”
An ADHD diagnosed child might also not remember what he had previously said and therefore come up with a new answer, which makes it appear that he is being deceitful when that isn’t his intent. Finally, many ADHD students have a difficult time expressing their feelings, so they may seem as though they are lying when they are really just having a difficult time explaining something.

Strategies for Addressing Lying Behavior in ADHD Children

It’s tempting to yell at your child when you know they are lying to you.  We suggest some calmer strategies:

Try to understand the root of the lying.

If you can understand why your child lies (processing and communication issues, zoning out, or to cover up shame or embarrassment), it will be easier to address the behavior in future situations. Remind your child that he doesn’t need to know the answers to everything and it is okay to say “I don’t remember” or “I don’t know” or “I wasn’t paying attention and missed that part.”

Is your child lying because of embarrassment?

Remind him that we all make mistakes, but it is better to be honest than to try to cover it up. Ensuring that you do not criticize your child for failure can help to prevent lying out of shame or embarrassment.

Always confront a lie

If you suspect your child is lying, address the lie immediately and be consistent in applying consequences. Say calmly, “Something about this doesn’t seem right to me. Are you sure that’s what happened?”

Don’t assume your child is lying. 

If your child feels that you will never believe her, she may have no incentive to be honest. If she tells you there is no homework when she always has homework in that class, rather than assume she’s lying, you could have her call a friend or check the school website to make sure she has the correct information.

Use consequences and rewards.

If your child consistently lies about homework assignments, use a logical and consistent consequence to address the issue (such as losing video game time). Over time, he will learn that lying does not lead to positive results. However, it is very important to also offer praise or some other form of reward when your child is honest with you. This is essential, as research suggests that behavioral change is more likely to occur as a result of reward than consequence.

While it may take time to change your ADHD child’s lying, it is possible to lessen those behaviors. By considering the source of the behavior and addressing it in a consistent, patient and understanding way, you will help your child to eventually make honesty a habit.

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