A mom asked about her child’s fibbing and tendency to exaggerate. She wanted to know what she should do.
When this happens in my office, I tend to stop the conversation and say something like:
“I’m struggling with something right now… and I need your help. I know that sometimes people don’t tell the truth or they say things in an exaggerated way to try to impress others or to avoid getting in trouble.”
Then I wait and see if they respond. Even if they don’t, pausing helps impress upon them that this is a problem that others shouldn’t excuse.
Then I might say, “and I’m uncomfortable right now. I don’t feel that what I’m hearing from you is truthful or it’s an exaggeration. Is what your saying one of those? Could you be exaggerating?”
At this point, kids/teens will be more honest, especially if you are not angry or threatening them with a punishment. If they continue to fib, cut the conversation short and say “Well, I want to keep talking and listening, but it makes me feel foolish if the other person is just making stuff up. Why don’t we take a break and we can talk more later on when we can have a more honest conversation.”
A dad recently contacted me with concerns about his son getting fast-tracked into an ADHD diagnosis and starting medication. I told him to make certain that he’s reviewed my checklist below of the common things that can mask as ADHD symptoms and easily lead a child into a wrong diagnosis.
– Teachers who aren’t sensitive to or don’t have experience working with active boys
– Heavy language-based education and not enough hands-on tasks
– Few motor breaks throughout the class day and short to no-recess time to release the normal high activity needs of many boys
– Boys who are younger than their peers, even by a few weeks or months, often get accidentally diagnosed as having ADHD – they’re just less mature and will catch up
– Food additives and preservatives have been indicated in hyperactivity
– Allergies can exacerbate behavior issues
– Exposure to lead paint and other neurotoxins
– Hearing or vision problems
– An undiagnosed learning disability
– High screen/tv exposure
– Lack of sleep
– Marital discord and any other family based stresses that make kids feel insecure or anxious are notorious for masking as ADHD
There are so many things that can influence a child’s attentional skills and his ability to block out extraneous information to focus. There are also many things that ramp up motor activity, especially when a child is being asked to sit still and engage in less novel or enjoyable tasks. So don’t think ADHD first, but instead, review possible other causes first.
Do you have advice on helping teenage boys with their impulse control when it comes to social media and discussions about girls?
The problem isn’t about impulse control. Nor is it concern only with boys. The inappropriate use of social media is happening with girls too. The problem is the technology and 24/7 access to social media that’s driving inappropriate discussion and behavior around sex. Interest in sex is completely healthy and normal, but technology speeds everything up – it drives the discussions too fast via texting, overstimulates the brain with sexually explicit ideas or graphic images, and provides lots of misinformation. This problem is growing as the must-have new technologies get released. We’re in uncharted territory. I’ve spoken to grade school and high school teachers at conferences about social media concerns (sexting), and we can’t come up with a single, simple solution or approach. As long as parents purchase and provide their kids with these technologies, the problems of inappropriate use will continue.
There is one thing a parent can do: monitor and get tough. Especially for younger teens (15 and younger) you’ll need to be on whatever social media they use – Instagram, Snapchat, Facebook – and be watching their activity. Be clear about which ones they can and can’t use. These are powerful technologies that are easily abused in the hands of minors and teenagers. Frankly, many adults have problems staying appropriate online and many get addicted to social media. Make a simple rule: If your teen is inappropriate, their phones/computer access must be immediately removed for at least one week to make a clear statement that technology isn’t a toy and has dire consequences when used inappropriately – especially around anything sexual.