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A recent blog post by Dr. Mary Ann Mulcahey highlighted the article an Australian colleague and I wrote on the topic of individuals with ADHD and the fibbing phenomenon. In our article, and during an interview with Dr. Ned Hallowell, we discussed the effect fibbing can have on the relationship between parent and child.

Most often when a fib is uncovered, whether the perpetrator is a child, adolescent, teen, or adult, there is relationship fallout. No one wants to be lied to. There is often judgment, flared tempers, angry words, or threats that may or may not be followed through with.

As for the fibber, feelings of shame, guilt, remorse, and in some cases, depression emerge, none of which change the root cause of the fib or prevent the behavior from occurring again. So, how then are relationships repaired after repeated foundational blows?

As the parent or caregiver, stepping back from the incident and taking a look at the bigger picture is a valuable step in changing relationship outcomes. Think about how the following measures may be incorporated into your response to situations such as fibbing. 

  • Just as we want our children to be more mindful in their decision making, so too can we, if we practice. BREATHE… When tempers flare, blood pressure is elevated; heart rate and cortisol levels rise. Take a moment to STOP, BREATHE, REFLECT. No good decision is made out of anger or fear. As Elizabeth Gilbert says in her book Big Magic, “Terrified people make terrible decisions.”
  • Manage your anger. You can’t repair the relationship if anger is always the undercurrent.
  • Practice forgiveness. Giving and asking for forgiveness is hard, especially when there are hurt, angry, or bitter feelings lingering from repeated lying. Modeling this selflessly is important. Love the person, not the behavior. 

These steps outline the internal work a parent needs to do before addressing the issue with the child. In next week’s post, I’ll outline some ways parents can work with children to rebuild the relationship that has been damaged by fibbing.

Blogger Barbara Hunter, MEd, shares her expertise in the use of technology to support learning. If you have questions, please contact Barbara at bkhunter@springer-ld.org.

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