Do your kids lie? Any child will tell a lie from time to time. But, if your child has ADHD, he or she probably lies more often than others. This problem is frustrating for you and for your child. The more you understand about why kids with ADHD lie, the better you will be at helping yourself and your child.
The ADHD Brain is Different
Researchers studied the part of the brain called the caudate nucleus. This region of the brain combines information across different parts of the brain. It also assists cognitive functions, including memory. The study indicated that this portion of the brain is smaller in people with ADHD. Other research found that people with ADHD don’t use the anterior cingulate cortex. This region of the brain helps focus attention.
As a result, children who have ADHD have trouble with executive functions. Executive functions help a child manage time and pay attention, plan and organize, remember details, and multitask.
Why Do Kids with ADHD Lie?
For kids with ADHD, lying may not be an indicator that they’re being dishonest. For many of these kids, lying is a symptom of their condition.
When you tell your child to pick up their toys, later they may insist that you never asked them to complete that task. The child isn’t really lying. They may not remember that you made that request, or something might have already had their attention, and they didn’t process that request.
Kids with ADHD sometimes lie to avoid getting into trouble. If you ask your child whether they’ve done their homework, they may tell you they did it. If your child finds homework tiring because it is difficult, they may lie because they think they can avoid doing the homework or getting into trouble because they haven’t.
Being impulsive is another symptom of ADHD. Sometimes a lie falls out of a child’s mouth before they have had a chance to analyze whether it's true, or to consider the consequences of their lie. They may also want to cover up something that makes them ashamed. If you ask how they did on their math test, they may lie to avoid the shame of telling you that they did poorly.
How to React to Your Child’s Lies
No parent should accept malicious lies, and you need to separate those from lies that are part of your child’s ADHD. You can find constructive ways to help your child control their lying. Repeatedly lying and getting into trouble for it can lower your child’s self-esteem, and their willingness to keep trying to get things right.
- Look for patterns in your child’s lies and help them when they’re struggling. If your child has a problem completing a task, give them a list of steps to follow. Don’t ask if they’ve picked up their toys, instead check on the results.
- Don’t shame your child if their lie is a symptom of their ADHD. Talk to them about why they lied and help them understand what they could have done differently. Talk about why it’s important for other people to trust them and believe what they say.
- Don’t take your child’s lies personally. When you understand that their lies are often a symptom of their ADHD, you’ll be able to guide your child into behavior that is more positive.
If you need more help understanding why your child may experience differences in development that can lead to lying, contact your local Brain Balance Achievement Center. For over a decade, we’ve helped over 40,000 children improve the critical and behavioral skills needed to create a brighter path for their future. You can also view the research and results of the program on the website.