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. Understood.org 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??
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.
- 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)
- 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.