Anyone else dealing with a pathological/compulsive liar?

Discussion in 'General Parenting' started by P-nut2004, May 17, 2011.

  1. P-nut2004

    P-nut2004 New Member

    I have overlooked this issue with L for quite sometime but it is definitely getting worse. Anytime anyone is sharing a story about something they did, or a friend did, or they saw on tv, etc. L suddenly has done this same thing or seen the same movie….regardless of how ridiculous it is & how obvious it is that she’s lying. She also comes home from school with these fantastic stories of what she did today or what the teacher told them etc. For a long time I would just say “I think that’s a fabulous story” to let her know I new it was a lie but I didn’t feel the need to cause an issue over it. Now this is becoming a constant issue & when anyone tries to call her on it she goes off, yelling about how it’s not a lie and no one ever believes her. I have always asked her sisters not to push the issue but C in particular feels this need to prove L wrong when she’s knows L is lying. If you can actually manage to ‘prove’ she’s lying she will change her story just a little to compensate. I tried to dismiss this as just wanting to fit in but I’m becoming increasingly concerned about how adamant she is that it’s not a lie. I used to be able to tell when she was lying about something when she got in trouble too but recently there have been things I KNOW she did and she still fell apart screaming about she didn’t do it and she wasn’t lying. So now I’m very worried….I can’t decide if she is just intent on not admitting it was a lie or if she really believes the stories she’s telling. I’m also worried about what she’s telling other people due to the fact that a lot of her stories would seem very believable to people who do not know her well. The optimist in me wants to believe this is just an age related phase but the other half of me is freaking out about the other possible explanations. I know a lot of you guys are dealing with older difficult children who behaved similarly to L at her age so I’m hoping some of you have some insight into this.
  2. AnnieO

    AnnieO Shooting from the Hip


    I don't know if it's her reality, or what... We had a counselor tell us Onyxx didn't know she was lying, that she really believed her stories. Well... Um. I still don't think so - because Onyxx will throw in just enough truth to make you wonder.

    Many times she will scream at us that we don't trust her. Nah, really?! Could all the lies she's told make it difficult for us to believe a word she says? Yeah, I do believe so.

    I don't know what you can do aside from the nod-and-smile. C seems determined... Can you work with her to ignore L?
  3. InsaneCdn

    InsaneCdn Well-Known Member

    Maybe its "neither"?

    We got broadsided by our latest professional's analysis... but her approach makes more sense than anything else we've seen or heard... Be careful with the label. If this child has executive function issues (often part of ADHD, can be off-the-map severe), and/or working memory issues, and/or Central Auditory Processing Disorder (CAPD) or a host of other input/output issues, then SOME of what you are seeing really isn't lying... Part of it is inaccurate memory (they THINK they remember it that way, but it isn't the way it happened). Part of it is poor social skills - so they go overboard in trying to impress or fit in... and it flops, of course.

    We found out that ours has been telling "lies" non-stop since early in Elementary school. When he told the truth, teachers didn't believe him. So, he learned to tell them what they wanted to hear, which surprisingly works quite often. Its just that... a kid can't cover all the bases, and doesn't know when to use that strategy and when not to... so, they get blasted by the "lying" label - and then they have NO idea what they are doing wrong, because the just did 10 other "lies" like it, and those were all fine...

    Some of these kids are also really suggestible. And they READ social cues far better than it seems... they just don't know what to do with all that info, so they don't respond the way we expect.

    Yes, some of the statements will be deliberate lies. And therein lies the knotty problem. When is it really a lie?

    Homework not handed in? was it a lie? or, did he really think that he already did it, or that putting it in his binder was the same thing, or that his aide was supposed to do it, or... in reality, he probably does not remember why it isn't handed in. We're learning to back up from the lie, figure out what was really happening, and work through an alternative approach for next time. We're just at the front end of this - trying to get the school to buy in - but at home, we've really reduced his need to lie. We don't even use that word or the associated label any more. He makes "mis-statements". They may be inaccurate or untrue, but we try to not get wrapped up on motive. The statement was made for a reason. Peel back the reason... and you can start working on missing skills, unlearned behaviors, or bad habits...
  4. AnnieO

    AnnieO Shooting from the Hip

    The problem lies in those reasons. Why lie about something that, in the long run, makes absolutely no difference whatsoever? Or is easily proven? ... Or...

    Why say two kids in school got in a fistfight - when these two aren't her friends, didn't even exchange words, and who really cares, anyway?

    Why say she put away her laundry - when three seconds later, you walk in and it's clearly not done? Then say her brother must have taken it out - when he's not even in the house?

    Why say Ms. So-and-so lost her homework? Repeatedly? When she's the only kid whose homework was "lost"? And she has a habit of not doing it?

    Why the long, convoluted story about how so-and-so's mother stole money from his bank account and she had to help figure it out and that's why she was late getting home when she wasn't supposed to be out in the first place? (To get out of trouble...)

    I gave up on all of this stuff. I just nod and smile, assume Onyxx is lying unless it's independently proven, and forget about the reason she's lying. She lies because it is ingrained. Mostly, I don't care - and if I do, I probably already know the truth, anyway.

    Parents are smarter than kids think, even when we are lost.
  5. InsaneCdn

    InsaneCdn Well-Known Member

    Step - you'd have to find a resource like we ran into... who can unravel those particular threads, for this particular kid. Ours was a different data set - but the school was nailing him for lying multiple times a day... and he was coming to "live the label". But ours isn't quite as complex as yours...
  6. AnnieO

    AnnieO Shooting from the Hip

    Insane... Yeah. Well, part of the problem is that, from the time BM took off in July 2002 until July 2007 (Onyxx ages 7 to 12), Onyxx was so desperate to have her mom love her that she would do anything - anything - for that love. Including lying for BM, covering up for her... And... If she didn't perform well enough, she would be abused, sometimes physically, sometimes verbally/mentally. Now add in that she saw BM get away with lying repeatedly. She's seen the justice system throw her Daddy in jail, when he was trying to protect his children. When she testified that she did not want to see BM unsupervised (she wanted to - we were skeptical), the judge then informed all of us that she (Onyxx) had had too much control over the whole custody issue and husband spent 3 days in jail for denial of parenting time. When the order came out, it said specifically that since BM had returned Jett late (I belive it was 90 minutes) on Mother's Day, this constituted husband denying BM's parenting time. No, you won't be able to read that and make sense of it.

    But by all of this, Onyxx learned it was a GOOD thing to lie. And it just escalates. I love her - but I do not trust her.
  7. keista

    keista New Member

    My DD1 told her first whopper of a lie at 3 1/2. Not just the normal "no, I didn't do it", but tacked on was an ELABORATE cover story. I was concerned but not freaked out yet. As she got older, the lies got more elaborate and more pointless - ie "We had a pizza party in school today" when there was no party. What's the point of such a lie? She was about 5 at this point so I started gently calling her out on them and calling the pointless ones 'stories' as opposed to outright lies. I would warn teachers about this behavior and gave examples of how subtle and realistic they could be and PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE contact me and let me know if anything she said seemed iffy. The most I got was reports about the "bragging" lies where kids try to one up each other, about weekend events, vacations, etc. Fast forward to 2nd grade (7-8yo) Her Dad had left, and I found out that not only was he a compulsive liar, that he was delusional as well. At this point I'm petrified. This has got to stop or she'll end up just like him. EVERY time I caught her in a lie, we would have a long - gentle and calm - discussion about the difference between lies and stories. The importance of telling the truth, and being able to tell a good story, and letting your 'audience' know, at least at the very end, that it's a story. The importance of trust and being trusted. She loved to read, so I also started guiding her to write down her elaborate stories. Once I did ask her why she made up the pointless stories and why she tried to hold on to them so tightly as the truth, and she told me because they were more interesting than real life, and she'd rather live in her 'stories' So we talked more about how AMAZING real life is and how even more amazing books and cartoons, and movies AND her stories are but these are just for escaping life temporarily - not for always.

    Some way, some how, she got it. Or maybe that's when depression started creeping in along with intrusive thoughts that took the place of her 'stories' or need for them. She still lies. Mostly to try and get away with stuff, but it doesn't seem any worse than "regular" kids. On rare occasion she'll succeed in lying to me, but eventually come around and confess. The redirection has paid off since now she's also an avid writer and was chosen to represent her school at the Young Author's Conference a few weeks ago.
  8. AnnieO

    AnnieO Shooting from the Hip

    Something we have always stressed in our household - do something wrong, there are consequences. Lie about it, and the consequences get a LOT worse.

    For instance... A couple years ago, Onyxx stole her brother's Concerta from my bedroom. Swore up and down she hadn't... But this was about 3 days after she had taken all my body jewelry and then admitted to part of it (never found the rest). So we searched her room. And found the empty bottle in her beanbag chair. She SWORE that it was planted there, crying the whole time. We also found several other items the same day. She now has a felony drug theft on her record. She cannot get a job.

    And shortly before that? She broke a black eyeshadow on the beige rug. I heard the vacuum... Then she came to get me, told me what had happened, that she tried to clean it up and it got worse. So her consequence? To look up how to clean it, then clean it. The black spot took a while, but that was her consequence. And I made sure she knew that because she told me about it without trying to cover it up, that I wasn't angry. (I don't consider vacuuming trying to cover it up, more clean it up.)

    Jett had frozen bread and put it in the microwave for 6 minutes. When I got home, everyone expected me to explode... I asked what happened, and when he told me? I lost it laughing. And we spent about a week trying to make the smell and color go away. But still - no lie, minor consequence.
  9. wintak

    wintak New Member

    no help really from me, but I have a liar. And like yours, lies about everything and makes up elaborate stories. As an adult I feel the need to prove to him that I know he's lying, even though from a different standpoint you could look at it as I'm arguing with an 8 year old. A recent favorite was he was with his gma (true) and they went for a walk around the lake (true) and all of a sudden they saw a big huge fish (had to story and how big it was) on the beach of the lake and it was flopping around (completely untrue) and they had to try and get him back in the water (again, since there was no fish, there was no getting him back in the water) and then it swam away. My mother was with him for this walk and she's looking at him in utter disbelief and shaking her head behind him back and forth...No. Seriously...why lie about that? It was just he and his gma and me. And of course they get bigger and better if he's done something wrong.

    I feel your pain...don't know what you can really do though. Some good ideas below though (or above, depending on how you read these posts)
  10. keista

    keista New Member

    Wintak and P-nut, TRY channeling this creativity into something positive - because when you really think about it, it IS creative. I just re-read my previous post and realize the example I gave of my DD1 is very boring and dry, but she truly spun some very elaborate tales! Definitely akin to that fish story, which I would have loved to hear first hand.

    Similar to Step, lying gets the gravest of consequences in my house. Often I will not punish the infraction but the lie, and repeatedly remind the kids what exactly they are getting punished for - the lie. I make them rephrase that fact back to me.

    About 6 years into my marriage I became 'hyper-honest'. I was always a generally honest person, but it seemed I took it just a step further. In hindsight this was a sub-conscious reaction to living with a compulsive liar since, at the time, I did not yet know he was a compulsive liar.
  11. P-nut2004

    P-nut2004 New Member

    Wintak: I have heard very close to the same story before from L, there's a lake at FILs house and if half the things she claims to see live in there we're all in danger LoL I don't get it either :huh:

    Keista: We have always told the girls it is wrong to lie and better to be honest regardless of the situation. From the beginning of this 'story telling' issue I have discussed with L that it is not ok to lie about things and if she wants to make up a story its ok as long as she tells the person she's talking to that it's a story. L is well above grade level in reading and writing, although she struggles with spelling, her teacher brags constantly about how much detail she puts into her stories and how she thinks L will be a writer. We have tried to steer the lying in this direction but she wont hear of it, any mention of lying or story telling makes her angry now as she insists she has told the truth about all of it. She will have a meltdown regardless of how I try to approach the issue.

    Step: I am trying to work with C on ignoring most of Ls behaviors but she feels so neglected & I think it's her way of striking back at L to nitpick at every little thing. I can't seem to get her to see it any other way. We also stress in our household that punishment will be minimal if you're honest, and we stick to that. My husband does make a habit of denying responsibility for small stuff he thinks I can't prove he did, but neither of us has ever really shown them that it's ok to lie. Like you, I cannot wrap my brain around the purpose of telling pointless lies that we can tell are lies.

    Insane: I have seen the acronym Central Auditory Processing Disorder (CAPD) several times on here but was unfamiliar with it, apparently it is the same thing Ls psychiatrist refers to as expressive language disorder which I was told is synonymous with auditory to verbal processing issues. So I guess L has Central Auditory Processing Disorder (CAPD) and alot of what you said makes sense. I know she has poor social skills but she covers it up well, so most other ppl don't realize it. She has also been saying to me "Why am I so confused?" or "Why do I keep forgetting stuff?" when she's trying to explain something and it seems from an outside perspective like her thoughts got all jumbled up. I have similar issues, I always talked very fast as a child and would rattle off what I was trying to tell someone and then get all tongue tied and forget what I was saying & my mother always said my brain was going faster than my mouth could. I still have this issue although not as often. I can also see how she may think she remembers doing these things, she's always had a vivid imagination and will insist she was present for events that happened before she was born because she has heard the story many times. The problem is I can't distinguish which 'stories' are deliberate lies, which ones are an attempt to fit in and which ones are 'delusional' thoughts that she actually believes. So I don't know how to figure out WHY she's lying or which part of her disorders is causing the behavior.
  12. AnnieO

    AnnieO Shooting from the Hip

    If L sees this? Then she thinks it's OK to deny responsibility. Which gets bigger and bigger.
  13. InsaneCdn

    InsaneCdn Well-Known Member

    Remember that people who have this may not have ALL of the issues... in our case, its more auditory discrimination and filtering...
  14. P-nut2004

    P-nut2004 New Member

    Keista : You snuck in a second post while I was posting LoL We also punish the lie severely and make it clear that the punishment is for lying not the original misdeed. In fact, no lying is a posted rule on both L's rules list and K & C's rule list. I guess I'm kind of 'hyper honest' too, I always say I'm blunt to a fault. I don't hide who I am or what I believe and I own up to my mistakes so it really infuriates me when others do the opposite. I have even been accused of being overly honest with my kids because I don't lie to them when they ask me difficult questions, and I rarely try to avoid answering them. I feel like if they trust me to tell them the truth they will be more apt to be honest. I have also taken the time to discuss trust with L and explain how important it is. I am sure L doesn't do all of it on purpose but she has to know some of it isn't true and she definitely knows lying is against the rules, she can recite her short list of rules on command.
  15. P-nut2004

    P-nut2004 New Member

    Thank you Insane, that was a much better explanation than the first one I found. L displays most of the symptoms they listed. I know when she had her full panel of testing done and received the diagnosis of expressive language disorder they did do hearing tests. I was confused by the diagnosis as we thought she just had trouble pronouncing certain sounds, but psychiatrist explained it to me as being similar to dyslexia only its the sounds that get jumbled rather than written language. We were told L needed to see a speech pathologist and by some bizzare coincidence her pediatrician called me as I was typing this to tell me they got the referral put through. I will ask the speech pathologist if Central Auditory Processing Disorder (CAPD) is the same as 'expressive language disorder'.
  16. keista

    keista New Member

    (((HUGS))) P-nut Sounds like your L is exactly where I was afraid my DD1 was heading.

    Judging solely from my husband, the first two will cause the latter if a person is "wired" to become delusional.

    On the bright side, L can always end up making a living as a writer regardless of where life's path leads them.
  17. Carolyn9595

    Carolyn9595 Guest

    My son went into the truck, stole money from his dad's wallet and bought a white t-shirt because he's too lazy to wash. He left the package on the chair and was Wearing the Shirt when his dad confronted him. "you stole my money and bought that shirt!" and the kid had the nerve to say "no I didn't." My husband used to believe him and sometimes still falls for a line but now says "if his mouth is open, he's lying." He was like this when he was 8 years old too. It is not a teen thing. He used to make up stories, bring home stuff he stole and lie about it. Then he gets insulted when we don't trust him! There are days when my head does spin All the Way Around!
  18. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    I am going to share what my 27 year old daughter (now a perfect easy child, so there is hope) said about her lying when she was young. It was troubling lying too, not the sort to try to get out of trouble, at least when she was in her early yars.

    Her most baffling lie was telling the kids at her late elementary school that her father worked for a candy company and then she could get candy whenever she wanted to. Then, unknown to us or to the stores she stole from, she would shoplift candy and hand it out and perpetrate the lie. This was a dangerous foreshadowing of later behavior for her. Once she was finally stopped, she said (and I believe her as she was terribly shy) that "I just wanted to make friends. Nobody pays attention to me." It was really sad the way she said it and we did get her into therapy. However, the same issue morphed as a teenager.

    We moved to a new state and she was, of course, still very shy and sat alone at lunch and was very lonely. To gain attention, she started using drugs and was suddenly the most popular girl at school and very able to talk and be a lot of fun when she was high or drunk. This happened at age twelve (although again we did not know it at the time). She could stare us in the eyes without wavering and lie that she hated drugs and drinking, even while she was high.

    She took drugs until age nineteen, and got very involved in them and has told us stories about her life then that scare me to death. The point of my story is that tapping into our children's minds isn't easy, but early behavior can sometimes persist and worsen.

    My daughter was not a defiant or difficult child. She didn't cuss at us or fight with us. She simply wanted her peers to like her and didn't know how to gain attention in more acceptable ways. It is interesting to talk to her as a responsible adult and to learn what made her tick as a kid. There are many reasons why a child may make up stories, which I think is a bit different than lying to get out of trouble (although these kids tend to be VERY good at THAT too as time goes on)...

    My daughter is a VERY creative person. That makes it's easier to come up with phenomenal stories.
  19. hearts and roses

    hearts and roses Mind Reader

    Big hugs~

    My difficult child was (is) a liar. I swear it's pathological. Her first lie on record in the schools was in kindergarten. She had a swollen bug bite on her forehead and since she forgot her 'show and tell', the bump became her show and telll. She showed it and told everyone that I had run her over with the car. The school psychologist was sitting in that day, lucky me. She called me immediately. Later in 3rd grade she stole the teacher's bag of calculators. And later that same school year, she stole all the books the kids were reading in class - the whole bag (she stuffed them into her backpack). When we asked her about these things the stories were so elaborate, so detailed, almost would have believed them if they weren't so ridiculous. She was of course punished in some way, I don't recall exactly because there were so many behaviors going on. This was 3-5 years prior to her being diagnosis'd.

    By the time she was a teen, I would tell her that I thought she was lying - this caused a lot of drama in the house. Then I stopped doing that and simply nodded my head and did a little, "Mmhhmm". Eventually, my firm belief was that difficult child was lying because her lips were moving. I simply didn't believe anything that came out of her mouth. Finally by about 17 she realized that whatever BS story she told me was checked with someone, school, etc., and her lies slowed down a bit but she can still dish out a good long tale once in a great while, though nothing like when she was a kid.

    I have no advice for you - we worked with three counselors and no one was able to get her to stop the charade. She just sort of grew out of it, for the most part.
  20. keista

    keista New Member

    LOL yeah, we're almost from the same mold. I actually have started feeling guilty about Santa, the Easter Bunny and the Tooth Fairy. Last month DD1 was having some mild - for lack of a better identifier - psychotic episodes. She started calling me a liar - mostly because she was convinced I hated her and wanted her dead. I was more afraid that she would actually "go there" with the Easter Bunny thing and call me on it than anything else she was saying. Since technically it is a lie, her altered state would have "proof" that mom really was a liar, and therefore anything else I said wuld be a lie.