Behavior & Discipline

What to Do if Your Child is a Chronic Fibber

Have you ever caught your kid in a lie? Whether it was a harmless fib or a more deceiving falsehood, it’s not uncommon for some children with ADHD to tell lies. Keep calm and guide them to honesty with these 4 easy tricks.

Close up view of girl with ADHD
Close up view of girl with ADHD

Do you wonder why some children with ADHD lie, even when they know that you know they are fibbing? It’s the same reason they may cheat at a game, make excuses, and refuse to take responsibility. They feel they are not in control of their behavior or the situations they face, so they make bad choices. Then they realize what they’ve done, feel ashamed, and find a way to cover it up. What can you do to minimize fibbing? Try these tips:

1) Stay cool. It is difficult to stay calm when your child appears to lie effortlessly, but you must. Your child thinks, “I don’t want to mess up all the time. Now I feel exposed, and my parents think I’m a bad kid. I can’t take that shame, so for self-preservation I am going to lie.” If you lecture or lose it emotionally, your child will never feel safe in telling the truth.

2) Get to the root of the issue. Lying isn’t the real problem; he lies to hide his impulsivity. Parents need to improve their child’s impulse control. Walk with him into a video game store, look around, and walk out without purchasing anything, despite his pleading. Have him leave behind a few French fries when eating at McDonald’s.

[What to Do When Your Child Lies]

3) Speak to your child like an adult. Say, “Jacob, I know you lied because you made a mistake and didn’t want to get caught. You felt like you were out of control, so you made up a story. I’m not mad at you — I want to help you. Your lying doesn’t make me not love or like you anymore, but it does mean you’ve lost some of my trust. I’d like to give you an opportunity to earn it back.”

4) Role-play. Giving a consequence for lying won’t change anything; you are only letting the child know he did something wrong (he already knows that).

Instead, create a routine in your family when someone needs to be honest about something unpleasant. “Jacob, in our family, we’re going to say the word ‘popcorn’ when we need to have a difficult talk. When you say that word, I’m going to sit down and listen — I promise I won’t overreact or lecture you. So let’s practice doing that the next time you want to lie.”

[How to Encourage Honesty in Your Child]

Your child should always see home as a safe place where we all can be imperfect and grow through our struggles.

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  1. My 11 year old daughter was diagnosed about 4 years ago with ADHD. I had it growing up and so did my sister. She has recently been diagnosed with intermittent explosive disorder. She has been lieing about little things like stealing food…even though she eats like a horse and we don’t stop her from eating whenever she wants…but she leaves wrappers all over and that with the lieing about taking it is the real issue. We’ve addressed it and have talked to her about it a million times. She stole my wife’s Fitbit recently and continues to take little things. Yesterday I laid down for a nap and she stole $40 out of my wallet. Now it’s a big issue! We don’t know what to do or how to go about disciplining for this. We know that she obviously has problems controlling her impulsiveness but we are running out of ideas. Any advice would be helpful.

    1. We saw a psychiatrist for our daughter because of constantly lying and ADD related impulse control issues. She got put on a form of ridalin and I can’t believe I the immense change in her behavior. She is old enough herself to see the change in how she can focus and think through problems, it helps with her memory. It’s a real necessity for her and as her parent I’m so thankful we have found a treatment with no negative side effects that really helps. You may also want to visit a psychiatrist. Your daughter may need medication to help her slow her brain down so she too can focus and have impulse control. Good luck, I know how hard it is on everyone….

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