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The Magical Thinking of ADHD Brains — and How It Drives Our Kids’ Lies

“My child with ADHD had just done something impulsive — something outside her control — and was unable to stop herself in time. She wished she hadn’t done it. And magical thinking allowed her to imagine that she hadn’t.”

2 Comments: The Magical Thinking of ADHD Brains — and How It Drives Our Kids’ Lies

  1. @Advocate4Others, thank you. Here from Germany, this seems to me an extremely weird and unduly righteous judgement of a child, somehow typically American. You seem to consider a “lie” a pre-defined, easily recognizable and bad thing for a child to do, as if it were habit she could choose to unlearn, like smoking. A person does not need to have ADHD to not be able to see something they are saying as an instance of “lying”.

    Basically, the child sees and feels that you are badly upset and tries to say something to make you feel better. Whether she just wants to make things ok, or you have shamed her, or she is really afraid of you, obviously the best solution to the tension would be if she had not done whatever it is that is upsetting you. Of course this is magical thinking, but it is your job, not hers, to find a more realistic solution. This is only my opinion, but I would forget about the issue of lying entirely and focus on helping the child and yourself just solve the immediate problem.

    As a life lesson, it would be good for an ADHD person not to have to feel so ashamed over inevitable f* mistakes that they don’t know what to say. Instead, they can learn to look at the feelings of the person who is upset, maybe apologize, but, most importantly, focus on: “what do we do now?”

  2. I appreciate well the stories in your article. Clearly, I was not a part of this situation and your story. I am not sure, however, that the premise behind the article is the only possibility. While it may appear to us that someone is lying because we can clearly see the evidence, there are other possibilities. I think it’s important to see that there may be other realities — in particular with someone with ADHD. For instance, it is possible that your child saw the chair, saw something on the chair that in her mind was a flaw, and she was simply seeking to correct the flaw. If something like this were the case, the child may have thought she was helping and would not be lying when denying her actions. A presumption of lying may, in fact, create a situation in which the child may never state her actual intentions. Again, I was not in your situation but merely want to point out that someone with ADHD may not fall in line with your pattern of logic. He or she may have their own logic.

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