Who Else Wants to Understand Why Your ADHD Kiddo Lies?

I hate to admit this but there is a war being fought in my house right now.  It is a power struggle over the use of electronic devices (I have such a love/hate relationship with electronics).  I’m sure this is a battle that is familiar to many of you.  The part that is tearing me apart and causing me to lose sleep is the lying and deceit that my daughter has brought to the battlefield.

I’ll set the scene for you with the first day that I realized this was a problem, a MAJOR problem.  I was going through the nightly ritual of putting my kiddos to bed (hubby was out for the night) when Pickles began questioning me on what my plans were after they had gone to sleep.  I found her question odd but sweetly responded that I had some work to do in the office, tucked her in and then got to work.

After about 20 minutes of work I wandered out of the office and noticed the door to our playroom was open.  We have issues with our dog sneaking into rooms and rummaging through garbage so I shut the door and went back to work.  After about another 20 minutes of work I wandered out again and AGAIN the playroom door was open?!?!  I peeked my head inside and noticed my daughter’s chrome book missing from the charging station (house rule is all electronics stay out of bedrooms).

Suddenly, Pickles earlier questioning made sense and I bolted to her bedroom.  The lights were out and she appeared to be awakened from just having fallen asleep.  I made a beeline to her hiding spot but there was no chrome book.  She asked what I was doing and I told her I knew what she was up to and we would be discussing it in the morning.  She groggily denied it.  Looking back on this now I can’t believe I didn’t come completely unglued but she has sleep issues and I was able to push aside my anger to let her get a good night’s sleep.

The next morning of course we found the chrome book stashed in a new hiding spot in her room.  I was furious and as a consequence she lost her chrome book for a week.  The WORST part was when she finally received her chrome book back she repeated the process that very same day!!  This time it was ugly.  I became that screaming angry mom I never wanted to be.  I do not have the words to describe my emotions for her complete disregard of the rules.

After the anger washed away a little I recognized that this was a war with ADHD and impulse control issues.   I cannot let my relationship with Pickles become a casualty of this battle.  I needed to regroup and come up with a new plan of attack.

Lying as a Developmental Milestone

I decided to do some research.  I was surprised to find many reputable news sources and clinical research supporting the fact that lying is a developmental milestone for children.  Funny I don’t remember filling out a form at our pediatrician’s office that marked this stage of childhood development.

It can begin as early as 2 years old when a child’s executive functioning skills begin to develop.  As a parent we want to trust our children.  According to this Wall Street Journal article “Parents are remarkably bad at detecting their children’s lies. In experimental studies of preschoolers, parents were able to detect accurately when their children were lying only 53% of the time—a little better than chance, according to a 2010 study led by Dr. Talwar. That falls to 33% by the time their kids are 6 to 8 years old. And parents of 9- to 11-year-olds have only about a 1 in 4 chance of knowing when their kids are lying.”  Pickles is 10….am I screwed???

Lying + ADHD = Why Me?

Ok so there’s some evidence that lying is a developmental milestone.  My kids both hit that mark but is an increased likelihood to lie a characteristic of ADHD?  My instincts told me yes based on our experiences dealing with impulse control but I went back to the research.

My suspicions were confirmed.  An ADHD diagnosis does increase the chances your child will tell a lie.  Of course this reality was disappointing but it helps to understand why. lists these challenges:

  • Connecting the now to the future
  • Thinking of, or remembering, consequences (this seems to be our current situation)
  • Organization and time management
  • Understanding how they got to the place of lying to begin with
  • Understanding that it’s the lying that got them in trouble (not what they lied about)
  • Knowing how to fix the original problem behind the lie

So Now What??

locking ’em up, zip ties to the rescue

I’ve shared the news of our war with both our local CHADD group and my parent coach and here’s the advice I’ve received.

  1. Sit down with Pickles and write out a contract on the rules for using electronics (we did this and while I think it was good dialogue she went right back to breaking the rules just days later)
  2. When it’s time for bed the electronics go on lock down (after another battle was waged just days ago I’m ready to move to this tactic)

Pickles needs to take ownership for her actions and of course when she breaks the rules she will have a consequence but to win this war we need to be on the same side of the battle lines.  It’s us vs. ADHD not mom vs. child.  I know she has been dealt some difficult obstacles to overcome and I need to take a deep breath and give her the tools she needs so we can fight this battle together.

7 thoughts on “Who Else Wants to Understand Why Your ADHD Kiddo Lies?

  1. Yep. I relate to every word of this. My almost 10yo son who has ADHD is constantly breaking our electronic rules (which are nearly identical to the ones you set & describe here.) It makes me tired and frustrated. I wish I had answers. For us, things get better….then worse. It’s a very slow process. I just have to remember that ADHD is always a factor. It’s often hard to separate the symptoms from the child.


  2. I just found out my six year old son has sensory problems, and ADHD from my understanding they go hand in hand to gather. his father and I are split and lying is a problem and comes home from school lying about how things went. He has problems with electronics at school and following rules but they do some of their work on them but he is always geting on the game programs and not doing his work. Or just not listening to teachers at all . We are in the middle of getting him an iep set up and he is not medicated I’m hesitant about it some times I wonder if he even has ADHD because when he wants to do something seems like he can concentrate but the sensory problems I have no doubt about. But any recommendations for iep ideas I don’t know what I’m doing.


    1. I’m not a doctor but in my experience with my daughter we also first found out she had sensory issues about 2 years before her ADHD diagnosis. You should google ADHD and Hyperfocus. Just because your son may have ADHD doesn’t mean he can’t focus…in fact hyper focus means he will get lost in something he truly loves and lose all sense of time or outside distraction. This is how my daughter is with books, electronics and dance. Finding and fostering what he loves can be amazing!!

      As for the IEP..that’s a tough one. Do you have an OT or any other specialist working with your son? Our OT was such an amazing resource while hammering out the details of the IEP. I wouldn’t sign anything until she had a chance to review it. You don’t have to sign the IEP at the meeting. Take your time and make sure all your son’s needs are being met to the best of your ability. Does that help?


  3. Great minds (and tires moms) think alike. I have the same topics wxhedules to post next week!!! I definitely can relate to this. I have to keep hiding the electronics all over the house. Somehow he finds them and I find them under his pillow. It’s exhausting. Thanks for posting what we all go through.


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