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My 9 year old stepson has adhd and he is in therapy, he is also taking proper medication that has made a world of difference for the positive. So the issue is that he is constantly misbehaving. He is a pathological liar and a thief. He has gotten detention for taking iPads from one class in school to recess and then claiming other teachers let him do it. He has taken money from my room, nothing major just enough to buy snacks or book fair items. He takes candy in basically any form and will steal it from his siblings or us if its left out. He also has a history of bullying. I have tried every way possible that I can think of to get this kid to see the error of his ways I have given him chores to do. I have grounded him. I have lectured him and tried to really connect with him. I have tried to get him to do outdoor activities work on cars with me and other men to see good examples other than me. There is no punishment no positive reinforcement that can get his brain to see consequences for actions it's like he has a reset button and nothing works. Please help.



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Hi @jamesmatt


Thank you for contacting us and asking us for support. It sounds like both you and your son are having a really tough time at the moment. I am very glad to hear that medication has been helpful for your son, even though he is still struggling with some behavioural issues. First of all I would really want you to keep trying with positive reinforcement, trying to connect with him and doing activities. This will really help demonstrate how much you care about him, and want to support him. Unfortunately any sort of behavior change takes a huge amount of time, effort, and energy. The most important thing is to be patient and consistent. 

I do also want to acknowledge that this must be very stressful for you and your family, so it's really important that you are also supported during this time. I've seen that you live Tennessee, so I've found a couple of resources that might be helpful for you. STEP offers workshops and 1 on 1 support for parents. Kid Central Tennessee also has a huge amount of information and resources, including information about where to get family support, as well as information on managing challenging behaviour. Let us know how you go.

Parent Community Champion


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Welcome to the forums! It sounds like you are ready to tear your hair out and you have tried everything. I wonder if the ADHD is actually linked to the lying and stealing or whether is exacerbates the behaviour – lack of impulse control. Tricky…

Most kids lie or avoid telling the truth from time to time. It’s likely that your child is having trouble coping with challenges related to ADHD. Kids with ADHD might lie, not to get out of doing a task, but to hide that they’re struggling with the task. It’s a way of coping with challenges. And they may not even realize they’re doing it.  Their difficulties with starting tasks and planning them out makes it hard for them to do what’s asked. Kids with ADHD struggle with executive functions;

- Connecting the now to the future

- Thinking of, or remembering, consequences

- Organization and time management

- Understanding how they got to the place of lying to begin with

- Understanding that it’s the lying that got them in trouble

- Knowing how to fix the original problem

Also, some kids with ADHD can be unrealistically optimistic. They may think everything will just fall into place on its own.

It may help to anticipate areas your son might struggle and give help. Look for patterns in when your child lies so you can figure out where there may be trouble spots.

Try not to take the lying personally. Focus on what led to the lie rather than the lie itself.

Remove the shame of lying. Don’t excuse the lie but show that you understand how your child came to do it. You could say, “It sounds like you were struggling. Let’s figure out how you got to this place to begin with. Then let’s figure out how to get you back on track.”

Help your child make connections. Talk about what happened and help your child recognize what went wrong. That includes what happened when your child lied.

Try to focus on his strengths and give helpful types of praise when your child does positive things. As Dr Ian Lillico says,

The behaviour of boys should be modified through praise - never through sanction or punishment. Punishment may contain a boy’s behaviour but not modify it. Punishment can actually be a reward for a boy as this can secure his prestige in the eyes of his peers. We must endeavour to catch our son doing something right and praise him for it and (generally) try to ignore when he does things wrongly.

Continually punishing or sanctioning boys can contain poor behaviour but won’t change the behaviour. If you really want your son to do things better you must contrive situations which enable him to do the right thing. This is the time to praise and encourage him. This brings long-term improvement.

Many parents fall into the trap of continually chastising boys and punishing them when they misbehave. However, in order to have a less stressful family life, and to change his behaviour, we should concentrate on positive reinforcement when he excels at being good.

Home rules written as negatives such as “No this or No that or Don’t this or Don’t that” should change to positives. For example rules such as “No chewing gum in the house” should become “Please place gum in the bin when you enter the house”. You can reinforce the second version by praising your son for putting his gum in the bin. Rules are of no value unless they can be reinforced through praise and a simple re-wording into positives can bring major change in a family of boys as their behaviour can then be modified. For example “We treat everyone in this family with respect - we do this by waiting our turn at mealtimes” etc etc. When your son does this well you reinforce the rule and modify his behaviour.

Boys who misbehave can often become heroes in front of his immediate peers. Boys who are publically chastised both at home, in the neighborhood or at school, often have a high peer esteem and their poor behaviour often continues to give them feedback - even if we see it as negative. Boys should never be publically scolded as this tends to raise their peer esteem and, hence, their poor behaviour continues. Public reprimand also severs relationships between the scolder and scoldee as boys are shame-phobic and (if we inadvertently shame boys in front of their friends) we frequently do more harm than good. Let’s be mindful of boys’ feelings and chastise them without breaking their sensitive and delicate spirits.”

I don’t agree with everything he says but it is something to strive for I suppose. He does work with ADHD children and will respond to most emails.

The combination of ADHD with other disorders often presents extra challenges for children and parents. It is important for healthcare providers to screen other disorders and problems. In this case, you may wish to speak to your healthcare provider about Conduct Disorder, although it would be a mild case.

Conduct disorder" refers to a group of repetitive and persistent behavioural and emotional problems in youngsters. Children and adolescents with this disorder have great difficulty following rules, respecting the rights of others, showing empathy, and behaving in a socially acceptable way.

Children or adolescents with conduct disorder may

- Be aggressive

- bully, threaten or intimidate others

- be mean to others

- start physical fights

- deliberately destroy other's property

- break into someone else's building, house, or car

- lie to obtain goods, or favours or to avoid obligations

- steal

Maybe he is anxious or has other learning problems as well. Something for the doctor to consider...

Have you considered discussing fish oil supplements with your medical advisor? Research shows that omega supplements increase a low level of omegas in the blood. That can be somewhat helpful in treating ADHD symptoms. One study found that omega-3 helps neurons in the brain communicate better. That may improve attention, focus, motivation and working memory for kids with ADHD.  It is by no means meant to be a substitute for ADHD medication and cognitive behavioral therapy but maybe worthwhile.

If the diet angle interests you then you might like Sue Dengate’s stuff. I don’t agree that ‘many’ children with ADHD respond to the diet, but it can save your sanity if it does work.


Good luck. 

P.S. If you edit your post with a 'tag' that says ADHD it might get more interest from parents with similar issues.


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