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

We have been nearing the end of a very lengthy day. My 4 12 months outdated clung to my thigh like a monkey to a flagpole, wailing because mommy was going to a PTA assembly after dinner. My 6 year previous shouted “Mom, have a look at my LEGO ship” in machine-gun speedy fireplace, unsuccessful in attracting my attention because I only had eyes for my 8 yr old — the one with attention deficit dysfunction (ADHD or ADD). She looked back at me through an unbrushed nest of hair piled atop her sinewy body, retaining a thick, black marker, status subsequent to one of my brand-new dining chairs.

I had completely no trade purchasing sand-colored, upholstered chairs, as if I lived in every other area with well-behaved youngsters and comfy grown-ups. And, as my eyes fell to the thick black line drawn on the again of my pretty new chair, I noticed my daughter had just proven that fact.

“You drew on my chair?” I shouted. “My model new chair?”

She shook her head, gripping the marker tight. “No, I didn’t.”

I pointed to the marker. “Of direction you did. What had been you thinking? Don’t lie to me.”

Her eyes welled and she began to cry. “I didn’t. I didn’t. I didn’t.” She threw the marker down and ran from the room, stunning the rest of us into a moment of silence.

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It wasn’t the first time she’d lied — and it wouldn’t be the remaining. She’d lie about taking one thing that wasn’t hers when stuck red-handed, she’d lie about hitting her brother when I saw her do it, she’d lie about completing her peas when the bowl was once still full. I used to be confounded. Our circle of relatives values liked honesty, and I used to be raising a misbehaving liar. Plus, now I had everlasting black marks on my brand new chair!

Magical Thinking and ADHD

The key to working out the connection between ADHD and lying is in an idea known as Magical Thinking. My child with ADHD had just accomplished one thing impulsive — one thing outdoor her keep watch over — and was unable to prevent herself in time. A bit like for those who’d slept-walked and ate an entire cake, then snapped out of it to understand what you’d carried out. She needed she hadn’t achieved it. And magical thinking allowed her to believe that she hadn’t.

Beginning with the toddler years and waning close to about 10 years outdated, children are ego-centric, meaning they consider they're the cause of things round them, like whether a rainbow seems or someone is unhappy. They also imagine in faux and the animation of inanimate gadgets. They consider in Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny. This sense of magical thinking allows a kid with ADHD to “wish away” the factor they’d just carried out. If they say it didn’t occur, then most likely they are able to UN-DO it. Perhaps it didn’t if truth be told occur in spite of everything.

Impulsivity and ADHD

It is necessary also to understand that the mind of a kid with ADHD lacks the neurotransmitters essential to control impulsivity. That lack of keep watch over likely accounts for no matter she or he did however shouldn’t have. It can also account for the lie. That lie would jet out of my daughter’s mouth so speedy, I could nearly sense that it surprised even her. But, once spoken aloud, she had to commit to the lie to have any probability of convincing me it was once true. Taking it again would certainly imply she’d get in hassle for no matter she’d performed — and then additionally for lying about it.

Emotional Regulation and ADHD

My daughter with ADHD additionally struggles with tolerating big feelings — hers and mine. If she stated she didn’t do it, then she had a shot at convincing me it was once true and thwarting the doubtlessly indignant mother. But she used to be unsuccessful. Seeing my anger, coupled together with her personal frustration and disappointment in herself for her inability to control her actions, created a typhoon of emotions that had been laborious to regulate. So, she erupted herself, letting it all out. And ran away to steer clear of having to control it additional.

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Avoidance and ADHD

Other occasions, kids with ADHD misinform avoid a job. In the case of “Did you eat your peas?” or “Did you do your homework?”, the magical thinking is that the task will move away if the kid says it is already long gone. Then, stuck in the lie, the impulsivity and magical thinking pushes them additional down their rabbit hole of story-telling.

What to do about the ADHD-powered lies?

My indignant outburst at my daughter’s motion (and next lie) is a superb reminder that I, too, continuously combat with an impulsive response to objects. I would love with the intention to react frivolously and rationally, however it isn’t easy with a toddler putting off you, some other kid vying to your attention, and your personal surprise at your pristine new chair lasting all of 5 minutes! However, when calm, I try to heed the following:

Reflective working out

“I take into account that you would like you hadn’t drawn on my chair and that you'd take it again, if you could.” If you return along your kid and show her that you recognize why she lied, you might in finding that she feels safe to acknowledge it. And your calm means can scaffold her incapacity to handle all the ones big emotions that erupted.


“How do you suppose lets make this higher?” Give your kid an opportunity to be phase of the solution to the drawback she created. This empowers her to take accountability for her movements. She would possibly just shrug in the beginning, but when presented sufficient chances, it will help to create a mindfulness referring to the purpose and effect of her movements.


In some instances, the solution might be serving to to wash up or to present back an item that was once taken. It may be a easy apology or a written word. In different cases, it is also vital to reflect on why your kid may have lied. Was it impulse or avoidance? If your kid is averting a task, then the onus is also on you to resolve whether or not the task is just too large. Did I serve too many peas? Maybe she hates peas. Is the homework too long? Maybe she has fine-motor issues that make holding a pencil tricky. Be a detective sooner than being a pass judgement on and you may to find your kid’s need to lie diminishes.

Your mendacity kid isn't a nasty seed. The mendacity is solely every other dysfunctional coping mechanism on your kid’s ADHD box of unhelpful equipment. While magical thinking does wane, remember the fact that your child with ADHD is incessantly three years in the back of in maturing, so magical thinking might final a bit longer. In truth, sure aspects of magical thinking would possibly stick with us into adulthood, since at the end of the day, we all want the world could be the approach we wish it. Some adults I do know nonetheless move their arms, buy lottery tickets, and throw salt over their shoulder. Others fake they are living in grown-up properties and buy sand-colored dining chairs.

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