Why Kids with ADHD Lie & What We Can Do About It
with Norrine Russell, Ph.D.
Everybody lies to some degree (remember when you told your friend she looked beautiful when wearing a dress you hated?). Lying is part of growing up. And kids want to do well — they want to meet your expectations and please you. When your child tells you a lie, it isn’t because they “disrespect” you. It’s so much more than that, and isn’t really about you at all.
In this episode of the Parenting ADHD Podcast, Dr. Norrine Russell is back to explain why kids lie, what it’s really about, and what you can, and should, do about it. One key strategy is to ask yourself how much is fact and how much is wishful thinking. This conversation is not what you would assume and that’s what makes it so powerful.
Resources in this Episode
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Norrine Russell, Ph.D.
With twenty years of experience creating positive youth development and parenting education programs, Dr. Russell has extensive knowledge of child development, learning styles, special needs, and positive parenting philosophies. She blends this knowledge to provide students and parents with comprehensive support and the tools they need to grow and thrive.
Thanks for joining me!
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Dr. Norrine Russell 0:03
When we think about why your child lies, it's because they don't have the coping mechanisms, or the impulse control or the executive functioning, to recognize the truth, and to deal with the consequences of telling the truth.
Penny Williams 0:24
Welcome to The Parenting ADHD podcast, where I share insights and strategies on raising kids with ADHD straight from the trenches. I'm your host, Penny Williams. I'm a parenting coach, author, ADHD a Holic and mindset mama, honored to guide you on the journey of raising your a typical kid. Let's get started. Welcome back to The Parenting ADHD Podcast. I'm really excited to have Dr. Norrine Russell back on the podcast with us. And today we're going to talk about ADHD and lying, which is such a huge issue for our community. I get these questions from parents constantly. I have a blog post on my site from a few years ago about ADHD and lying. And it's by far the most read and discussed blog post of all time. So this is definitely a topic that parents really need help with, and some perspective on I think, too. So I'm really excited that we're gonna share this with you guys today. Dr. Russell, will you start just by introducing yourself, let everyone know who you are and what you do?
Dr. Norrine Russell 1:38
Sure, absolutely. And thank you for having me on the show to talk about this. I agree with you. It's such an important issue and one to really reframe, from a neurodevelopmental point of view. So I'm looking forward to our podcast. I am Norine, Russell, and I started a student coaching practice 13 years ago, which has grown into a large national student coaching practice for typical and a typical students. We generally work with middle school through college students. And we really have an expertise in a niche in complex ADHD. And so that means kids who have ADHD, plus something else going on. So it might be a learning disability, it might be anxiety might be autism. But that complex ADHD student is really our niche. And we work with students across the country, and have a large student coaching practice that really helps kids to develop the executive functioning skills that they need, and the social and emotional skills. And I think really, more so important helps them find a sense of who they are as a learner and decreases conflict in the home. So my training is in developmental psychology, and I taught for several years at the college level, and also ran nonprofits for several years working with youth development. But this is my current gig, and I absolutely love it.
Penny Williams 3:11
And it's so necessary, we really need help. Understanding our students who learn differently, and produce work differently, show what they learn differently, as well. So I love that you're helping these kids find their confidence and to build competence at school, which is a place where they often feel like they're less than.
Unknown Speaker 3:33
You really do they really do. And I think our diagnostic system for ADHD is not particularly helpful in many ways. You know, I think that parents really, truly would benefit from a lot more education around ADHD as a neurodevelopmental disorder. What does that look like? What can you expect as a parent? You know, I look forward to the day when parents really get much more education and support around understanding ADHD as a chronic developmental disorder.
Penny Williams 4:07
Yeah, much work left to do, right.
Dr. Norrine Russell 4:11
Yes, I agree. That's why we're doing it, right.
Penny Williams 4:14
That's why we're doing it because there's so much left to be done. And they're always as you know, I've been entrenched in this community for over 13 years, and I still learn every day, I still learn things about my kid about our neurology, about the human experience about parenting, I still am learning and growing. And I think that's the beauty of the kind of the human experience is that we always get the opportunity to do more and to do better in a way that is growth and in fulfillment.
Dr. Norrine Russell 4:51
Absolutely. And for me, I love that part of things when I'm interviewing coaches, I constantly say to them, if you're not, sort of geeked out by learning about the brain and education and how kids minds work, then this is not going to be the right place for you because we are all geeked out about it over here. So I love that part. And I think our experiences on the parenting side are valuable. We just tried a little four day trip with our two kids, my husband and I did and we haven't traveled much since the pandemic. And Penny I just I really miscalculated. I really thought my son who is a complex kid who has ADHD and autism, would love going to Lake House for four days and kind of getting out of our routine and seeing something new after being house bound for the last couple of years. And it was very stressful to him. And it reminded me, this is how traveling always is for him. And he thankfully has gotten so mature and really voiced that to us, Mom and Dad, I think for me, it would be better to do day trips, and then maybe build up to an overnight trip in another couple years. But this has been really hard. And I thought wow, like, wow, that is a poignant reminder to me, have you got to meet your kid where they're at, and you have to know where they're at. And I I'd forgotten Petey. So it was an exhausting trip. It was a difficult trip. But it's things like that, that teach us and thankfully teach us as parents and teachers as professionals, how do we meet kids where they're at?
Penny Williams 6:34
Yeah. And why it's so important. Yeah. Right. Oh, it's so important that they're part of the journey, that they're really the guide, it's about them, not about us. And we often lose sight of that. And it's a cultural societal thing, for sure, in the way that we've been brought up to think about parenting and childhood and that relationship and that dynamic, which, thankfully, so many of us are working on changing that sort of norm?
Dr. Norrine Russell 7:03
Well, I think you're right, thinking of the child as the guide is certainly an idea that's growing with traction. But I think it's one that's also super relevant to our discussion this morning. Because I think a lot of times, parents get so terribly distraught about lying, and it comes this is what you're making me think this morning. It comes from that old paradigm of parenting, right? Like, I told you not to do this. I told you this was unacceptable in our family. You know, when you lie to me, you are disrespectful to me, you are disrespecting our relationship and my authority. So that's interesting. That's what you're making me think about this morning is that listening to the child and really viewing the child as the guide is the new way. But our responses to lying often are rooted in sort of the old way of parenting?
Penny Williams 8:00
Absolutely. They're totally rooted in that traditional parenting paradigm. And I think there's a lot of correlations that we'll get into, as we dive into the discussion online, that come back to kind of letting our kids be the guide. Do you want to start by talking about why people lie? Why are kids why are teens with ADHD lie? You know, what are the reasons I always push for understanding the why behind a behavior? We cannot change the behavior unless we address why it's happening that root cause? And so we need to understand, like, what are the possibilities there? What are reasons that people might lie?
Dr. Norrine Russell 8:45
Absolutely, I couldn't agree with you more, we need to understand the reasons behind behaviors. So when I talk with parents at my practice about this, because it comes up, I probably have this conversation weekly with one of our 100 or more, students that we see weekly. And I always start by saying, yes, your child lied to you. But take a breath, and let's kind of widen our lens. First of all, people lie. Adults lie. It's lie, teens lie. And so, yes, you're super upset about this, and you really feel betrayed by this. And I want to let you know that that I hear that right. I really do. I hear that you feel betrayed. Yeah. And at the same time, we have to acknowledge that people lie. Almost everyone has told lies, right? And so this is not abnormal behavior. You know, this is behavior that can happen, in small ways or in bigger ways. And I'm certainly not saying that it's okay. But I do want to in In some ways, normalize line in the same way that we normalize, forgetting, right, everyone forgets things. And we don't have the same deep emotional reaction to forgetting that we do to lying. And then I say to parents, and when we think about why your child lies, it's because they don't have the coping mechanisms, or the impulse control or the executive functioning, to recognize the truth, and to deal with the consequences of telling the truth. And there are lots and lots of ways that our kids lie to us with or without ADHD.
But let's talk today about kids with ADHD. So you'll have the impulsive, lying, right? Where they don't even think about it doesn't even go through any part of the frontal lobe, it just comes out of their mouth. At the moment, like, Did you clean up your bedroom? Yep. And part of what I say to parents is, you almost want to reframe that from the point of view of your child wants to please you, they want to be doing the right thing. So they're saying yes, because you have taught them that picking up or doing their homework or taking a shower is important. Yeah, that's one thing. It's sort of a simple, really no frontal lobe lie. And then there are also times when, as our students get to middle school in high school, they begin to tell themselves lies, right, that they're under full awareness that they are behind in a class that they haven't turned in that paper outline that they have not studied for the retake of that exam. But because it's so stressful to them, because it matters so much. And that's really the takeaway message. It matters. And so their behavior is unacceptable to their own self, they start to tell themselves, well, it didn't matter, or teachers probably going to give us another day, or I really did do that. Right. And so then when the parent goes to check in the student, the teenager has already been lying to themselves about that. And one of our students a couple of weeks ago, said, it really actually gets pretty muddled in my mind, what is the truth? And what is the lie? Because I want to do well, and I don't want my parents to think I don't want to do well.
Penny Williams 12:34
So much to unpack there. And to you know, it's self preservation. Kids do want to do well, they also don't want to get in trouble. They don't want to disappoint you. Sometimes it's not even about avoiding consequences or punishment. It's about avoiding disappointing you the parent. So they're doing it for you in their mind, right?
Dr. Norrine Russell 12:58
Yes, they really are. And that's a parenting win, right? They don't want to do something that might destroy the connection that you have the pride that you have in them the way that they trust in how we as parents love them and respect them. If you can look at it through that lens, it's actually relationship preservation. Now, do we have to get to a different point, right, where we're asking different questions, and there is honesty. Yes, yeah. But in terms of understanding why lying happens, you're absolutely right. They're doing it because they love us, and they share our values, and they don't want to disappoint us. Yeah.
Penny Williams 13:40
And the other big lesson for me over the years about lying, is that sometimes they're conveying how they feel in the absence of being able to communicate the intensity in which they were feeling. So for example, this is when I did a story at all the time my son was in elementary school, and he came in the door one day, and he found the door open, and it hit the wall and knocked a hole in the wall, right. He was so mad, he flung his back back. And he said, John tried to kill me on the playground today. And he was serious. He believed that this kid tried to literally end his life on the playground. And I had to recognize that what he was doing was telling me what it felt like when something went down between them. And he didn't know how to convey the intense fear and anxiety and discomfort that he felt when this kid actually shoved him. That he kind of embellished and blew out of proportion, the way in which he explained what happened to me or to him. And it wasn't hire Lee to communicate how he was feeling. Because he didn't have the skills to do it in a different way to really communicate that intensity. And that was a big aha for me, recognizing that and recognizing that also punishing or getting upset with him in that moment wasn't gonna help him. Right? It wasn't it was just gonna invalidate his feelings and make him feel like I didn't understand. It's so so important that we understand what's behind it in order to really do the right thing for kids in those moments.
Dr. Norrine Russell 15:38
Well, I love this story that you're telling because it illustrates so much about what we need to understand about the connection between ADHD and emotions, right? That from even a kid who has just the ADHD diagnosis, we know they can be delayed up to 30% socially, emotionally. Right? And so this big response could be related to that. I mean, I don't know, right, but it could be related to, just a little bit of developmental delay. A kid who has anxiety could very easily also have that bigger reaction to something that maybe another kid wouldn't, but it certainly was big and real to them. And then, kids who suffer from rejection sensitive dysphoria and things like that. Again, I love what you're saying. It felt that big to him. That was his reality. And by hearing him and really listening, yeah, sure. Eventually, there's a way to discuss that and unpack that and figure out, how can you cope with that? What are your options, right, but in the moment really hearing that it felt to him like he was in grave danger. And he was terrified for his life. He needed to be heard he needed to be heard.
Penny Williams 17:11
Yeah. Yeah, he really done and validated for sure. And part of that, being able to sort of step back and see what's underneath a lie comes from reserving judgment. Right, because we see lying as a character flaw. Mm hmm. That's what it is, in our minds, in our society, in our culture. It is a character flaw, it's a moral flaw. And we have to cast that idea, that assumption aside, and ask questions, dig deeper, be okay with just kind of letting that sit somewhere else.
Dr. Norrine Russell 17:53
Right, right. Absolutely. And let's be honest, I think there are times when lying in adults is part of a character problem. No one's denying that. But in what we're talking about today, in why our kids and teens with ADHD, tend to sometimes lie as a coping mechanism, that it's a behavior that we need to be curious about, we need to understand that it's not a character flaw, it's just not a character flaw. And I think one of the things we need to get away from is this idea of, well, if you just tell me the truth, you won't get in trouble. Because that idea itself even lends to this idea of Oh, lying is bad. And when you lie, you'll get punished, as opposed to, what you're talking about? And what I'm talking about, which is compassionate curiosity, what's going on, that created this other impulse or decision to lie, right? But we have to be curious. And we have to have some trust and faith in our children that they can, with our compassionate curiosity, explore that and figure out how to address those things. But it's all like you said, it's all about going underneath the behavior to see what's going on.
Penny Williams 19:20
Yeah. And to recognize, too, that it's not about us. To not take it personally. To not see it as disrespect is really crucial. Honestly, when your kid lies to you, you cannot think, Oh, they're so disrespectful. Oh, they're a bad person. And also dig deeper and find out why one precludes the other. And so we have to be able to sort of not make those assumptions or to ask ourselves, if it's not that, what could it be? So I'm assuming that My kid is disrespecting me. But I'm going to ask the question. Maybe it's not that What else could it be? It really opens the door then for that, that deeper dive,
Dr. Norrine Russell 20:10
Oh, I love what you're saying, I love what you're saying. And I think it's important to you know, that we, as parents in this situation, give ourselves a little bit of grace and hold some space for the fact that it can feel like a betrayal. It can feel disrespectful, we can have an emotional response. How many times have I wished that my child would tell me the truth? How many times have I said, I'll sit with you and figure this out? If you just tell me the truth, I think we can do both things simultaneously, I think we're smart enough as adults, I really do. You can say, I wish that my child wasn't lying. And at the same time, say, but this line isn't about me. And with some compassionate curiosity, I can, like explore with my child, what's going on. But we have to separate the two like you're saying, you can acknowledge how you feel, you can acknowledge some of the schemas that we have in our head, maybe some of the thoughts we bring from generations past, we absolutely can hold space for that. And then we can create a very conscious separation from all our reaction and our response.
Penny Williams 21:30
Yeah. So let's talk about our response. Let's pivot to now what do we do? How do we have conversations with our kids about lying? Because it, it is a problem, what we're saying here isn't that it's okay to lie. What we're saying is that, we understand why it happens. And that we need to help our kids with whatever they're having a hard time with. There's some sort of struggle behind that line, right. And so we still have to work on the line, we have to have conversations about it, and so forth. You know, one conversation I have with my son a lot is, when I'm having a hard time trusting him, and I pointed out and I say, I'm really struggling right now to maybe believe 100% of what you're saying, because in the past, you've told me things like this. And then I found out they weren't really the truth. So, can you tell me how much of this is? Maybe the facts and how much is how you're feeling? And, just sort of guiding him to unpack it?
Dr. Norrine Russell 22:36
I love that question. How much of this is the facts? And how much of this is how you're feeling? We use a similar question. How much of this is the fax? And how much of this is what you wish it was? I couldn't agree with you more. And I want to be clear to your listeners. Lying is a problem, right? But the problem really goes deeper than the line. We don't want line lines, not okay, neither one of us would say, Sure, go ahead and lie. But there is a deeper problem underneath the line that we want to get to where, generally speaking, our son or daughter is overwhelmed by something. And that's why they're lying. And in order to do our job as parents and prepare them for harder tests, harder classes, the next breakup that happens, the next college rejection, they get whatever it is, in order for us to be preparing them to have those coping skills we need to get to what's creating the lie. What's overwhelming. So 100%, I'm on board with you. Lying is not okay. But just addressing the lying leaves the elephant in the room?
Penny Williams 23:54
Yeah. And it leaves the door wide open for it to keep happening. 100% Because we haven't helped.
Dr. Norrine Russell 24:01
Right, right. So some of the things that we address a lot of times that come up in our practice pretty regularly are conversations with parents about how do you get smarter than your kid when it comes to making sure that homework is done or that your student is meeting their goals for the week? Or that they are taking advantage of tutoring or teacher time at school? Right, whatever role it is. That is the parents role when it comes to school. And this varies from family to family. How do you do that? So one of the things that I'll say to parents is, if you're checking on homework, if you're really at that elementary school age where you're managing things, stay away from questions like Do you have homework is your homework though, right? Because those are questions that are so very easy for a kid who is impulsive. Maybe their medication has worn off Maybe their medication isn't optimally titrated. But those kinds of questions. It's so easy to feel the pull to say. No, no homework. Yep. Got it all done.
Penny Williams 25:10
Yeah, we set them up to lie.
Dr. Norrine Russell 25:11
Yeah, I'm glad you said it Petey, cuz honestly, it is a guest on your show. But in some ways, yeah, 100%, we wouldn't leave the car keys out for a 16 year old and go away for the day and say, don't drive the car, right, we would put the car keys away. We're all conscious of this when it comes to, marijuana and alcohol and prescription drugs, right? So, we're smart people, as parents, we really are, we can ask better, smarter questions. So some of the ones we suggest are, what do you think is the most difficult thing you have to do tonight for homework, right? It's a question that challenges your elementary or middle school or even high schooler to really think through what is it that they have to do? Right, so what's the most difficult thing you're going to have to do tonight for homework? Okay. Another great one is what's going to be the thing that you're going to be most likely to procrastinate tonight? What's the thing that you're just dreading doing? Right? And that opens up a connection between the two of you? Oh, my God, it's not I hate that math teacher and she hates me. Right? Then you can talk about why is math so annoying? Why is daily math homework annoying? Why is it annoying to have to do 31 problems, every night and being heard also energizes people to then feel better about the problem, simply being heard sometimes can solve the problem, you know that as well, as I do.
Penny Williams 26:47
Being heard also sets a tone for our kids to be able to tell us the truth.
Dr. Norrine Russell 26:51
Mm hmm. Yeah. Yeah, absolutely. being heard, you don't need to solve it. My husband and I are working this through right now in our marriage and our parenting where our kids are now 12 and almost 14. And it's always been important to hear them right? To not talk at them to not lecture them to not solve their problems. But we're getting to the point where listening needs to be the go to strategy every single time they tell us something right. And so my husband and I have been working with someone to help us develop sort of a shared sense of how do we listen? How do we ask questions. And it's been really fun to see him develop a deeper sense of a deeper skill set really in questioning and then see our kids. You know, when people are listening to they catch on fire, they tell you all kinds of things. They're so excited. And then and then they solve their own problem. Okay, Dad, yeah, I really don't want to do that. But I'm going to go get started on it. And my husband looked at me, I didn't do anything. I'm like, Oh, you did the single most important thing ever. You created space for those feelings, and you validated them, and you listen, and then they solve the problem themselves. Isn't that great? Like, that's what I want?
Penny Williams 28:12
Yeah. Yeah. That relationship is key. And listening is such a big relationship builder.
Dr. Norrine Russell 28:17
It really is. It really is. Yeah. So another question that we recommend to parents a lot. You know, parents struggle with missing assignments, because kids struggle with missing assignments, because kids struggle with getting their assignments done and turning. And sometimes in all honesty, it is a transition to the online system, you have to hit submit, and then turn it in, there's often a two step process to turning homework in online. And it's very hard, especially for kids with ADHD, who can be distracted, who can be doing other things on the computer or the phone at the same time to actually go through that whole turning it in process. And so if you're getting all those notifications from school, Marissa is missing assignments, Marissa is missing another assignment. Marissa is still missing the assignment. Marissa is now missing 15,000 assignments and you feel your blood pressure going up and up. You know, I would counsel parents to say you know what, I want to have a better understanding of this system. Penny, I think there's nothing wrong with playing dumb, you may well know how Google Classroom works. You may well know how Canvas works. You may not believe that. It's that difficult. But in your role as a parent, what strategy can you use? Sit down, open the computer up, have them show you how does this get turned in?
What happens once it's turned in? Can you help me understand? What does it look like when it's turned in? Does the paper disappear? You know, you can ask really smart leading questions that will give you the information you need, and will do so in a way that helps your your son or daughter to also know. Okay mom and dad now get how this works, right? And we can either be a part of the solution like did you remember to hit both submit buttons? Or we can also say, is this something where you're kind of wanting to turn in last week's homework? Because you don't want to be bothered with this week's homework? Or is this something where, you might try to turn in a blank PDF, and then say that the file was corrupted? Like, let's just name it, right? Let's just own it. Let's name it. And let's get to what is the real problem? What really happens when you turn in the blank PDF? When you turn in last week's homework? Let's create a space where kids can talk with us about that, because then we can get to what is the real problem? And so I think that question of show me how this works. Show me where you turn things in, show me what happens when something's turned in. And we as parents know, when our kids are uncomfortable, if they're like skipping around all over the place on the portal, and they're jumping from here to there. And they're like, Oh, I can't click on that, we can simply say to them, you know, what, my brain is old, my brain is slow. My brain is not used to this, can you slow down? I really want to understand what's difficult about this? Because first, I want to hear you. But second, I want to support you, right? I want to be someone who can support you. So can you show me where you turn that in? Or let's take a look and make sure it went through the online system, right? Instead of saying, I keep getting these notices, or you have five missing assignments? Will you make sure you turn them in tonight, that kind of superficial level directive isn't going to get to the real problem.
Penny Williams 31:54
Yeah. And commandments are so sometimes hard for our kids to follow. Because we give one directive turn in your homework. But for them, it's 1015 steps, they have to remember them, they have to do them in order. You know, and so many of our kids struggle with executive functioning. So working memories, issue sequencing can mean issue, organizing, being able to, just find the work after they did it right, in some sort of organizational system can all be sort of hurdles or pitfalls for kids where they end up getting off track, they, start to struggle, or they think that they're finished, and they're not right, which was a huge thing for my son, when he would think that he had finished a task that I gave him, a one sentence commandment to do. And he had it in his mind. He was done. But I hadn't defined really my expectation enough. And I think sometimes that plays into mining as well from our kids is that they really do want to do well, they want to meet our expectations. And so sometimes they realize that they haven't quite and they don't know where they got derailed. And so they'll say, Yeah, I did I finished, right, or they believe they finished because they want it so badly to be done or something like that. Like, there's just so many reasons, so many reasons. And we have to look deeper.
Dr. Norrine Russell 33:23
Then we have to acknowledge that. This is our job right now as parents, right. Yeah. I mean, just this morning, before I left the house to come to my office to talk with you on the podcast. My kids have both recently switched to homeschooling. And they're using an online platform. And my son turned in an assignment yesterday, and he got a 50% on it. And he's looking at me this morning, and he's in complete shock and dismay that he has a 50% on an assignment, right? And I'm simultaneously doing two things like, why does he have a 50%? Oh, my God, what's wrong? Because I'm an anxious person, right? I'll own that. That's my stuff. And very purposefully, sitting back in the chair I was in in our music room and going, well, let's take a look at it. Let's see what happened. So he opens it up. And he finds the part that he just missed. He 100% missed it, and it wasn't that he was being irresponsible. It wasn't even that he was rushing. It wasn't that as mented worn off. And he was doing work too late in the evening. He just missed it. It's a new class that he started at civics and he isn't quite familiar with all the layout of it, and he missed this thing. And I said, Well, what do you want to do now? Of course, I want him to redo it. Of course he wants to redo it. But asking a question instead of issuing a commandment or a directive. Give him the space to really own it. He's like, Mom, I think I'll work on that right away because if I can get it resubmitted, and she grades it then my grade will go back up to an A from a see, and that'll make me feel better. And I was like, okay, beautiful, wonderful. Like, the 50% wasn't the problem. But he also I'll tell you, he was swearing up and down to me that that part of the direction was not in there yesterday. And had I gone in that direction and tried to convince him. Well, honey, she didn't change the directions between yesterday and today, you must have missed it right, then that's me not being very smart. Right? That's me not being a very effective parent, you have to ask the right questions, with compassionate curiosity.
Penny Williams 35:38
Yeah, and leaving the door open for exploring versus, just sort of shutting it down, which it would be easy to shut it down and say, I don't know what happened, I did everything. Right. Or, my son would have been the one who said, I don't care, I'm not doing it again. And sometimes that has to be okay to you know, you have to know your kid and know, where they're at and what their needs are. And their struggles are and sometimes that had to be okay, as well. But, assuming that it was laziness, or brushing or something like that, again, is sort of putting words in our kid's mouth, almost, where we're telling the story, and it's not ours to tell.
Dr. Norrine Russell 36:21
Right? Right? And what if it is laziness? You know, let's say it is laziness. I don't know about you. But, man, I sometimes really like being lazy. I am sometimes lazy, right? What's the real problem? The real problem is, when do I allow myself to be lazy? And when do I say, You know what, today, you actually have to get up and put some clothes on and get some things done versus today, you can be lazy, right? Like, laziness is not the real problem. The real problem is the executive functioning, prioritizing what needs to get done? When do I have to be productive? Versus when can i lay around and be lazy? Right? We're all lazy sometimes, right? So that's not the real problem. The real problem is that the executive functioning skill of prioritizing needs to be sharpened a little bit. I love that you brought up executive functioning.
Penny Williams 37:16
Yeah, because it's so pervasive, right? When someone struggles with executive functioning, it is so hard to get things done and to succeed, especially at school, but also just with chores at home, or, even like remembering what happened yesterday to be able to tell you the full story and tell you the truth, instead of maybe not remembering everything. And so filling in the blanks with something they've made up right like that can cause lying to executive functioning issues. There's so many ways in which it just makes life more troublesome for kids sometimes. And I think the other piece of it, besides, maybe not being motivated to do something is not feeling the importance. You know, my son in high school, especially the last couple of years, were so hard. And he's being told what he has to learn, and what he has to practice, especially like in math, doing trigonometry and stuff by hand. And he was just like, I'm never in my life going to do this. Especially not without a calculator. So why do I have to do it now? Right? And it caused avoidance it caused? No, I don't have any homework. Yes, I did my homework, I'm doing just fine in that class, right. Like it caused all these instances where he felt like, maybe he should not be truthful. And we had to find a way to relate the importance in a way that worked for him, which was super hard, because ADHD has now or not now.
And so saying, well, you're going to get this high school diploma in a couple of years, which is just a piece of paper, but it's not just a piece of paper, and, and it's gonna make life a little easier for you likely, and maybe open different opportunities and different pay structure. And, as a junior in high school with ADHD, it's really hard for that knowledge, to pump up the importance and the motivation to do those 30 equations. Right, like, that's another thing that really happens to our kids. And it's really hard for them to see the value sometimes when it's not super related to their life. I think especially kids who are also on the spectrum, but I see that just with ADHD as well. It can be super tough, and it can really cause our kids to sort of skirt around a lot of things, a lot of questions that we tend to ask Great. Has your homework done? Did you do a good job? That's a terrible question. Because it's setting them up to lie. Of course, they're gonna say yes. What kid would say no?
Dr. Norrine Russell 40:11
Oh, 100%. You know, I think it might even be useful for parents. If you genuinely ask these things, when you're in the car, do you need to put an index card in the car somewhere? You know, do you need to set up some kind of reminder system of what are going to be questions to ask that really help you to stay connected with your son or daughter, and also create a space for them to be honest with you and to ask for the help they need. Right? Hmm, I love when the students who were coaching, reach out to their coaches and say, I can't get this done. Or I'm really struggling. I know, I want to do better. One of my goals for this week is to get an A on the AP US History test. But I just can't do anymore. Like I absolutely love that. I think that is such important growth toward adult level skills, right? And so, for parents who are listening, what are three great questions to ask about homework that create that space? And I think it's, what are your goals this week? What's important to you to get done? How can I support you?
And what would be annoying, right? Because sometimes we just need to know that being reminded is annoying, or being told, like get off your bed and go sit at your desk is annoying, right? Like, we don't want to be that parent, we really don't I have yet to meet a parent who wants to be the annoying parent, right? And so ask your kid, do you need me to move family dinner to a different time? Or do you need to, have me sit with you and work on my work while you're working on getting, the annotations done for English? You know, what would be helpful? And I think that those are much better questions, what's going to be really difficult? What's going to take the most amount of time? Can you walk me through how these things get turned? In? What are you struggling with? What's overwhelming? What have you done this week that you are so incredibly, super proud of? What are you most excited about? What would you love to disappear off your to do list? And then my go to is, let's double check all this because I'm totally on your side. And I know how much you want to do well, and I know how easy it is to get tripped up with all of these different directions.
Penny Williams 42:44
Yeah, if we make the assumption that our kids want to do well, it opens the door to ask why they're not what's getting in their way. But all these questions that you just offered to parents, as I was listening, I'm thinking, well, this makes kids feel seen and heard. What's hard for you? What are you going to find most difficult? That's saying, I see that some of this is hard. And you're opening the door then for communication for them to ask for your help. And also for them to be more truthful. I mean, to circle back to our topic, that's what you're doing, you're showing them that it's a safe space, to be real and honest.
Dr. Norrine Russell 43:31
And it requires us to check ourselves, right? Because you're often afraid that if we talk about those things, we'll hear it is overwhelming, or I hate this class, or, school is stupid. And then sometimes as parents, we can get very afraid in that situation. And so that's something for us to manage. You know, that is something for us to seek out help and support from someone who is a trusted person for us. And it could be as simple as saying, You know what we all struggle with things we all have parts of our jobs we don't like to do we have parts of parenting that we hate, right? It is normal for our middle schooler or high schooler or college student to hate parts of school or to really not like a teacher. There is nothing weird or abnormal about that we ourselves as adults and parents and human beings experience that. We have to make sure when we're listening to our kids that we don't interpret that as and therefore my child is overwhelmed and I now have a problem. They can have those thoughts and feelings and still be able to get their work done. It's a both and situation. Don't let yourself become so afraid of their feelings and emotions that you rush into rescue them. They might just have them and just being listened to is enough.
Penny Williams 44:55
Yeah. Being open to their authenticity and being real ourselves. You know, that's such a big powerful parenting strategy, not that we use it as a parenting strategy. But it actually is to be real to show our kids that nobody's perfect that we all make mistakes. And that it's how we handle them that matters is really valuable, and especially in the conversation about lying. If we seem perfect to our kids, if they don't see us make mistakes, how are they going to own up to making mistakes, they're going to feel like it's not something you let anybody else know. Or that they're the only ones who make mistakes, and they don't want to be that person. They don't want to disappoint you.
Dr. Norrine Russell 45:40
No, they really don't. And so, absolutely reframing mine as not being a character flaw, but as symptomatic of, lagging skills or development that's a little behind or a defense mechanism or an impulse, right, understanding the why. And then, don't invite line, ask the right questions. And then listen, again, it's not that either one of us are saying that lying is okay. It's not, we want our kids to tell us the truth. We also need to be the parent that understands why the struggle could be there, and then the dishonesty could come and when you are that parent, it's so empowering, and it's so authentic and real in your relationship, I would far rather have my kids come to me and have them say, You know what, I just don't give a damn about trigonometry. And I don't want to get any of this done, and sit and listen, then to be lied to week after week, and repeat the same old cycle of well, Tyler, you've really got to get that trigonometry in. If I get one more notice from school, you're really going to be in trouble. Right? That's it's so superficial. It's so not authentic. Right? And so becoming the parent that knows how to create that safe space. It's worth putting the time in.
Penny Williams 47:06
Absolutely. Absolutely. And we are running short on time, and need to wrap up. I want everyone to know that you can go to the show notes for this episode. And learn more about Noreen and her coaching, and lots of resources on her website as well. I hope that you'll connect and learn more from her. You can access the show notes at parentingADHDandautism.com/168 for episode 168. And I would just love to ask you, what is one action item that parents can stop listening at the end here and do to help with the situation with their Childline? What's like a first step?
Dr. Norrine Russell 48:02
Yeah. First step is to check yourself and change your assumptions.
Penny Williams 48:09
Mm hmm. Perfect.
Dr. Norrine Russell 48:11
I have an offer for your listeners, I just want to make sure that we're able to get out there with you. Yeah. So our website is wrestle coaching calm. And for any of your listeners to this podcast, we do offer 20% off the first three months of ADHD coaching for your middle school, high school or college students. So I just wanted to get that in for your listeners. So it's 20% off the first three months of their monthly fees for us. And we work across the entire country from New York to California from Florida to Montana. And we can be found at Russellcoaching.com.
Penny Williams 48:55
Perfect. I just want to thank you again for sharing some of your time and your wisdom with this audience for a second time. And I'm sure we'll have you back again in the future as well.
Dr. Norrine Russell 49:07
Thank you. It's been a pleasure talking with you.
Penny Williams 49:09
It always is you as well. With that will end the episode I will see everyone next time. Thanks for joining me on the parenting ADHD podcast. If you enjoyed this episode, please subscribe and share. And don't forget to check out my online courses, parent coaching and Mama retreats at parentingADHDandautism.com
Transcribed by https://otter.ai
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