Reply To: Lying…when it's obvious

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I’m totally there with you!! My ADHD daughter turns 7 this week, and this has been our greatest struggle for the last few months. After months of her telling extensive, blatantly obvious lies, we’ve finally begun to make headway. To begin with, I had to figure out the “why”. My daughter, in particular, is very sensitive to being “in trouble”, especially if we yell. Her instinct when called out on something is to lie; it’s not only impulse control, but self-preservation. At the same time, she knows that she did something wrong, and there’s a part of her that wants to be caught, as children need boundaries and limits to feel secure, so she would sometimes even point out something that she had done, and say that “someone” did it, but not her. Once I discovered the “why” I began to work on the way *I* responded. Yelling at her for things that resulted from her lack of impulse control, and sometimes unintentionally shaming her for them, only contributed to her “need” to lie. I started really evaluating the behavior and whether it was a “heart” or “brain” issue; ie: whether she was being intentionally defiant/disobedient, or just acting on a childish impulse. If it was a childish impulse, I began to simply explain why it wasn’t a good choice. My daughter is very empathetic, so a strong emotional response to the most dangerous choices (like walking 2 blocks, at the break of dawn, without telling anyone that she was even leaving the house, and talking to a stranger in a minivan!!!), has been the most effective at getting through to her. On the other hand, heart issues such as defiance, disrespect, selfishness, meanness, etc., we talk about in a different way. I know that she deeply wants to be well-behaved, and she’s definitely a people pleaser, so pointing out the root of the behavior is helping her to realize that she doesn’t want to become the kind of person that the behavior indicates. Above all, I moderate my voice to be kind, understanding, and encouraging, even if I have to add a note of sternness to it. I was at my wits end, but let me tell you: it’s working!! At first, I realized that the habit of lying wasn’t going to just disappear, so I allowed one initial denial as her instinctive response, but she was expected to be truthful when I followed up with “Is that the truth?”. The first couple times, it took one or two more questions, but I praised her when she told the truth, because I knew that it was hard and scary for her. When she realized that I wasn’t going to freak out, she began responding truthfully more and more quickly. Now, she is even admitting responsibility when I ask who did something, or how something happened, rather than letting her brothers take the blame. I’m SO proud of how far she’s come, and I still praise her for being truthful. Occasionally, we’ll have a setback, and in the moment I feel utterly defeated and frustrated beyond belief, but it’s a far cry from where we were even a month ago, so I don’t hold it against her for long. I hope this is helpful and encouraging for you! Good luck!