ADHD and lying: Why kids with ADHD might lie a lot

By Gail Belsky

Expert reviewed by Ellen Braaten, PhD

Most kids lie or avoid telling the truth from time to time. But with kids who have ADHD, you might find yourself often asking, “Why are you lying again?”

Not all kids with ADHD tell frequent lies. In fact, some are impulsively honest, which can create its own problems. But for those who do lie, it can quickly become a habit. 

Usually, these lies are about everyday things like chores and work. Kids with ADHD struggle with starting and planning out tasks. So, they might not do them, and then lie and say they did.

Or they might lie about a minor mistake, like dropping and breaking a dish. Even when it’s clear they did it, they insist they didn’t.

Why would they say something that’s so obviously false? To avoid having to face difficulties and ask for help. It’s a way of coping with the challenges caused by ADHD.

Lying takes away the pressure of having to figure out how to do tasks. And for many kids with ADHD, that’s worth getting in trouble for, especially if they’re used to it.

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About the author

About the author

Gail Belsky is executive editor at Understood. She has written and edited for major media outlets, specializing in parenting, health, and career content.

Reviewed by

Reviewed by

Ellen Braaten, PhD is the director of LEAP at Massachusetts General Hospital.