February 24th, 2012
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iStock_000014014823XSmall…Buy yourself a cupcake.

The start of this New Year has not been an easy one around our house.  With two daughters in full-blown RAD mode, our family life has not been chaos-free.

One prevalent behavior of Reactive Attachment Disorder is lying.  All children fib and stretch the truth, but children suffering from RAD have perfected the art of lying to such a level, the lies should be hanging in a museum.

Elle, my 13 year old RADish, is so proficient at lying I’m not sure she knows how to tell the truth.  The hard part about the lying is you know they are doing it because your built-in lie detector is flashing red.  But how are you going to prove it?  Should you try?  Should you call them on it, or just let it slide?


Our therapist told us that for every lie we let slide, the sicker they become.  If they can get away with a small lie about using their sister’s hand lotion, then they can easily get away with stealing your iPad and using it to text their boyfriend…the boyfriend they lied about having in the first place.

For every lie Bunny or Elle would tell me, my blood pressure became more elevated and my stress level became unmanageable…

…Until I met a very wise, fellow RAD mom.

Around her house, lying is a thing to be celebrated, because every time one of her RADishes lie to her, she earns a point.  For every 10 points earned, she gets ice cream, and not just a small scoop of vanilla ice cream from the freezer, but a trip to Baskin Robbins or to Stone Cold Creamery.  I thought this idea was brilliant.  Why not take a negative and turn it into a positive?  Isn’t that the whole point behind the saying, “When God gives you lemons, make lemonade?”

But as much as I loved the idea, I couldn’t get my excitement level up over ice cream.  Although I like ice cream, I don’t LOVE it.  Now, a brownie with chocolate frosting might get my heart a pumpin’, but my true heart’s desire is cupcakes.  A red velvet or chocolate cupcake could send me over the moon.  Ten points for lying and a confectionary masterpiece of cake and frosting could be all mine!

Neither daughter was too thrilled to help me earn my cupcake points.  Bunny even cried when I caught her in two lies in a row and danced around the kitchen.  When I finally earned my 10th point, I yelled so loud my husband came running to investigate.

Nothing was wrong, it was just me earning 10 points toward a coconut cupcake.  And as I ate my bakery work of art, savoring every last crumb, my daughters were rethinking their lying strategy.

But, if I start to gain weight because I am earning a lot of points…I might want to rethink my cupcake strategy.

Photo Credit.

13 Responses to “When Your Child Hands You A Lie…”

  1. admin says:

    Oh my gosh I LOVE this!!! Brilliance :)

  2. Lanita M says:

    Isn’t it? It has definitely put me in a better mood!

  3. annekimball says:

    Love it, Lanita. Brilliant! I use a similar strategy with my son when he goes into control mode with his siblings. For instance, everytime he states that it is past one of their bedtimes, they get to stay up an additional 15 minutes. He hates it, but learns pretty quickly to zip the lips and let me handle things.

  4. Another tactic I have used is to “owe them a lie”. I heard about this mom whose son lied to her constantly as well, and one night she told him she “owed him a lie.” A few days when by. Son asked Mom if he could have a party on Saturday night. She said sure … and he planned the party, invited the folks … the works. A short time before the party, she said, “You know that lie I owed you? Well, there’s no party. Cancel it!”

    I have used this sporadically because 1)I’m not a liar and it bothers me to use it and 2)I want to be DEPENDABLE, not undependable. As parents of troubled kids, we need to be “predictably unpredictable” but we should still be DEPENDABLE. But to use this occasionally on a committed liar is not a bad thing, and it does make them think … HARD. I found I got a lot of mileage by just THREATENING this … much less using it.

    My son lied so much one therapist said, “Do you know how I know you are lying? Your mouth is moving!”

    And my daughter, now in her 20′s, was like the daughter one of you mentioned … she lied so easily and she lived in such a fantasy world that she really didn’t know how to tell the truth. The “truth” was whatever came out of her mouth that would hopefully make her life easier (of course it didn’t work out that way) but she really had no grip on accountability, reality, honesty, integrity … you name it. Shallow and disconnected to the max.

    Hang in there ladies!

    • Lanita M says:

      Thank you so much, Nancy. It is quite a job mothering 2 RADishes. Being “predictably unpredictable” takes a HUGE amount of energy. Especially since both of my daughters are on different ends of the RAD spectrum. Around our house we are just taking it one day at a time…and enjoying our cupcakes!

  5. elealee says:

    I really appreciate your insight in dealing with a problem that is so challenging.

  6. housemom says:

    I’m sorry you’re angry. It sounds like you have experience that could help me and other parents who have adopted children (e.g. What will make my child feel loved? What am I doing wrong? What will offend my child and make her feel bad about being adopted). When speaking to my children, I call them by their name or some term of endearment. However, when I talk about my children, I may refer to them as “my 8 year-old”, “my 5th grader”, “my karate guy”, “number 4″ “my fish” (she’s a great swimmer), depending on the topic of conversation. It’s shorthand for “my 5 year-old daughter, named X, who is a great swimmer”. Shorthand is used for difficulties and impairments as well. I talk to other parents and professionals about strategies to deal with challanged kids If the person does not know my child or his issues, I may refer to him as “my ADHD child” or “my HIC” (hearing impaired child). It’s shorthand, usually for those who have some insight into those particular issues. I would never call my child, “Hey, ADHD, it’s time for dinner!” That would be name calling.

  7. audreyhorne says:

    I hear you guys it is hard to have a liar kid. As an attachment disordered adult who was an attachment disorder kid and with a little brother who was the same, I’m familiar with this behavior and also know how disheartening it is for parents giving their all to connect and then being played. Especially you kind people who have adopted kids with these issues. Let me give you a piece of advice. Unattached people, kids or adults, don’t present attached behaviors like honesty unless they see an incentive. They have to be getting something they want to attach. If they aren’t, they won’t bother. When I used to lie, my parents would ignore me afterward for weeks. It was harsh and felt horrible. I felt like I had hurt them indelibly. I wanted them to be nice to me again. That was my incentive. So I went and talked to them and they told me they would be disgusted and detach from me every time I lied. I stopped lying at age 11 and have not lied since unless it was to preserve people’s dignity (white lies). My brother was different. When my parents pulled that with him, he simply transferred his need for acceptance and attachment to his peers — the delinquent ones were the only who would accept him — and became a delinquent, for many years. So he clearly had a different coping system than I did, but he operated on the same principal — he only operated on incentives. Later, he decided that delinquents did not afford the fine things in life that he wanted, a nice girlfriend, a job, and status. So he quite lying and hanging out with delinquents. He has a college degree and a six figure job now.

    I don’t know exactly what my parents could have done to give him an incentive to attach to them, but whatever it was, it had to offer him something he wanted. That is personal to a person’s specific character, but if you figure it out, you have a piece of your puzzle.

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