The Truth About Your ADHD Child's Lying

Attention deficit children may tell lies as a result of their ADHD symptoms rather than being dishonest. Learn when to punish your ADHD child's lying and when to deal with its causes.

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Manage Symptoms to Stop Lies

After working with many parents and teens, I've found that serious lies sometimes spring from an inability to treat and manage ADHD symptoms. A parent should discipline a teen for his untruths, but he should also help him manage the symptoms that may have caused him to lie. For example:

Impulsivity. David asks to borrow the family car to drive to the library to do research. Being impulsive, he detours to the mall to catch the new action movie. When asked later how his research was going, David assures his father that his time was well spent. Unfortunately, for David, his sister spotted the car in the cinema parking lot. Busted! Lies should have consequences—in David's case, he wasn't allowed to use the car for two weeks. But David's parents should also talk with their son and his doctor about possibly adjusting his ADHD medication, or adding behavior therapy to his treatment plan.

Inability to stay on task. Trish is handed a note by her math teacher, warning her that she has a dozen incomplete homework assignments. She is too ashamed and scared to discuss it with her parents. When the progress report is mailed home, she hides it from them, trying to avoid embarrassment and their wrath. Trish's behavior calls for discipline, but her inability to finish homework requires organization strategies.

Irresponsibility. Doug always washes the dinner dishes on Tuesdays, but on this particular Tuesday, he would rather have a root canal than wash another dirty plate. "I can't do the dishes tonight, Mom! I have a paper to write!" he announces, sounding regretful. Aversion to boring tasks, combined with impulsivity, is common among ADHD teens. Lying to escape responsibility is never OK, but Doug’s parents should think about ways to make boring tasks more exciting — maybe by playing a DVD on the kitchen TV while he scrubs away.

Next: Punishing Lies...

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