Why your adopted child may be prone to lying

Gregory Keck, PhD Attachment Therapist & Adoption Expert, explains why adopted children can be more prone to lying and what parents can do to stop their child's lying
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Why your adopted child may be prone to lying

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Many kids who've had trauma and are developmentally stuck engage in this specific kind of lying called primary process lying and actually it's the kind of lying that all kids do probably around the ages of four or five. They tell obvious lies and they don't know that the receiver of the information can assess the quality of whether or not they're telling the truth. What happens as kids get older because they're developmentally stuck due to the trauma they are 15 and they're telling five-year-old lies. When you're five and you say you're going out to drive your truck around the backyard it's more like a story than a lie, but when you're 15 and you tell very obvious lies like, “I'm not wearing your pants” to the brother and the kid's got the brother's pants on. he's right there seeing him, the person doing the lying isn't able to evaluate that the brother would know that these are his pants. So you see it's very immature lying that goes on that's extremely frustrating because they will be doing something and the parent says, “Oh, could you pick up the food you dropped?” And they'll just look at the parent with great eye contact and say, “I didn't drop that.” So some of the things we do because I don't think it's easy to stop, but what we do for parents is to say minimize the numbers of questions you ask because if you know the child lies all the time don't keep asking them, “Did you this? Did you this?” Simply say, “Could you please wipe up the cookie crumbs off of the counter?” And when the child says, “Well, I didn't put them there” is to stay out of that lie and simply say, “Oh, that's okay. I don't really care how they got there. Could you just help clean up the kitchen?” And what we tell kids is you've become an automatic liar at this point in time and liars are like truth tellers, most truth tellers just speak and tell the truth, most liars just lie. The first lie is not going to count, just put your hand over your mouth and say, “Whoops, that's a lie,” and correct it right then, not a day later, and tell the truth to your parent. And if we can interrupt that process of the parent constantly checking to see, “Well, I know you did it, I know you did it,” if we can just get the kid to interrupt it and say, “That's a lie” and correct it we find that they can move forward.

Gregory Keck, PhD Attachment Therapist & Adoption Expert, explains why adopted children can be more prone to lying and what parents can do to stop their child's lying

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Gregory Keck, PhD

Founder & Director, Attachment & Bonding Center of Ohio

Gregory C. Keck, Ph.D., is the founder and director of the Attachment & Bonding Center of Ohio. He is an internationally known psychologist and trainer who addresses the issues of trauma, adoption, and post-adoption challenges. He and his staff provide attachment therapy for adoptive families whose children have experienced serious early childhood maltreatment prior to adoption. In 2012, he received the National Association of Social Workers State of Ohio Lifetime Achievement Award. He is the parent of two sons who were adopted in adolescence.

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