Q: My Child Thinks He’s Always Right — and Never At Fault
Argumentative and even caustic behavior, even among smart and capable children with ADHD, often stems from weak perspective-taking skills and a lack of cognitive flexibility. Here, learn how parents can help strengthen these skills while minimizing household blow-ups.
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Q: “My 10-year-old son often sees things in black and white. If I change my answer on a question or decide to do something differently than previously stated, he calls me a LIAR. I’ve seen him do this with peers also. He seems to lack flexible thinking. It’s very off-putting as he’s so stubborn and rigid. I fear this lack of understanding will begin to impact friendships, if it hasn’t already. He specifically calls people LIAR and attacks with intense confidence and anger even at the simplest of situations or conversations.
“Can he be taught that calling someone a LIAR is a very strong accusation? Generally speaking, he can really fixate on something and have trouble moving on from a situation where he feels he’s been wronged — which is often. He also has a very fixed mindset about his role in things. He very often states “It’s not my fault” — even when something clearly was 100% his fault. I’ve witnessed this over and over. He sees and believes he has no role in conflicts. When I suggest he has the power to decide how to problem solve, that he is a smart child and he can own the solution, he comes up blank with no ideas. He relies on me and other adults to solve things for him. He is smart! How can he have such confidence in some situations and none in others? It’s such extremes.”
A: “I think what you seeing is your son’s lack of perspective-taking skills and lack of cognitive flexibility, so what we want to do is help him develop these skills that don’t come naturally to kids with ADHD. If you try to reason with your son when he calls you a liar, you are giving attention to unwanted behaviors. If he does that, remove yourself from the situation immediately and explain to him in a calm way that you will talk to him when he is calm, too. Kids can’t learn when they are emotionally dysregulated; it’s best to way until he is calm and more open to listening. When that time comes, you need to use language that helps him understand that people have thoughts different from his thoughts, and that doesn’t make them wrong and him right…”