Liar Liar Pants on Fire!
by Nancy Thomas
Lies can become a “Hobby” for a Child with RAD
A typical child will sometimes lie when confronted with misbehavior. A child with RAD, Reactive Attachment Disorder often enjoys lying so much it becomes “a hobby”. They will tell people they had spaghetti for dinner when they had steak. They will tell people they had corn when they had green beans. It is a test to see how gullible the adult is! Even more than that it is a test to see if they can trust the adult and follow them as a leader. If an adult falls for the tall tale they cannot be trusted and the child stays lost in their search for a feeling of safety by having a protector.
Lies can Make Parents Look and Feel Powerless
It is vital that any adult the child is entrusted to passes this “intelligence test” in order for the child to learn to trust. Children with Attachment Disorder want power and control more than they want anything. When an adult becomes angry over a lie, the message to the child is that the liar has the power and the one seeking the truth is powerless to get it out of them. This reinforces the problem. The first thing to remember is not to use anger in dealing with lying. It is better to err on the side of not believing the child that is a frequent liar than to be conned when they are lying. If they can con you, they won’t trust you!
Some fun Tools to Stop the Lies
Option: A fun way to deal with it is to have two people with 3 x5 cards and pencils. When the child lies, the adult smiles, says nothing and puts a mark on the card. Sometime during the day one adult says to the other, in another room from the child, “He can’t hear us can he?” This will insure that the child is listening! Then the adult asks, “How many marks do you have?” “You have more than I do…I’m going to go get another one.” The parent then promptly asks the child something they usually lie about, smiles with no comment, puts a mark on the card and then returns to the other adult. Many of the children will stop lying pretty quickly, because they don’t want their parents getting points in some strange game for their lies. Everyone wins!
Option: Have the child do an extra chore to earn money. For a younger child a couple of dollars will do. For an older child make it $10 or $20 depending on the severity of the problem. Get the money in coins. Younger children use nickels and older children use quarters. Get two piggy banks or jars. Clear ones are nice. When the child lies, they pay the parent for the hassle with one coin for each whopper. At the end of the week the remains in the child’s jar are spent on something fun, like ice cream. If the child is ‘in the hole’ at the end of the week, they owe another chore.
For more ideas and information, see my updated and expanded book, When Love Is Not Enough I also have a full webinar that covers causes and lots of effective solutions on this subject. Check it out here.
Keep your sunny side up
We can make a difference, Nancy