How to Detect and Treat Child Mythomania
Have you noticed your child lies in a compulsive manner? Do you suspect that it may be child mythomania?
In this article, we’ll explain the possible causes of this disorder as well as how to correct it. If you work on this from an early age, you may be able to avoid future consequences.
What is child mythomania?
Mythomania, also known as “fantastic pseudology” or “pathological lying,” is a behavior disorder in which a person lies compulsively. Mythomaniac people consciously choose to lie to express their reality. In most cases, they actually believe the lies they tell.
This isn’t a disease but a psychological disorder. In the case of children, it’s quite difficult to diagnose. Kids tend to make up fantastic stories, so it might be hard to detect the symptoms quickly.
What are the characteristics of child mythomania?
Children who suffer from this disorder tend to magnify their reality. They lie for any reason. They create stories and, more importantly, they get upset when you don’t believe them. Their lies generally depend on who they talk to, meaning that their stories differ from person to person.
These children tell unnecessary lies, and not just to save themselves from certain situations. For example, if a little girl breaks a vase, she’ll probably say she didn’t do it. On the other hand, a kid with child mythomania would lie even without having broken the vase.
Keep in mind that most children lie from time to time – it’s totally normal! But if you notice that they choose to lie in every single situation, they may suffer from this disorder.
How is child mythomania treated?
In general, children start to lie in a compulsive way when they’re going through a state of emotional fear or anxiety. They start to lie in response to a specific situation, which then becomes a habit.
The main thing is to discover the cause, figure out why they choose to lie in order to help them overcome it. If you see that your child has this type of behavior, the best thing for you to do is go see a professional.
Here are some useful tips:
- Keep track of the number of times they lie: Write down the moment of the day, the apparent cause, and their emotional state. Any detail will help you figure out what caused this behavior. These data will also help the professional of your choice determine a pattern of behavior.
- Keep calm: Catching them in a lie can be exasperating. However, try to keep your cool and don’t take it out on them. Instead, show them how much their lies upset you.
- Don’t ground them when they own up to it: Show them you’re glad they decided not to lie. Reward their honesty and make sure they understand that, if they stop lying, you’ll stop getting upset with them.
- Help them understand that lying won’t help them escape any situation: Teach them that all of their actions have consequences that they’re going to have to face sooner or later. Show them support and that it’s okay to take responsibility for our actions.
Short-term and long-term consequences
The family environment can be deeply affected by a child’s constant lies since it can become really tense and distrustful.
Try to avoid doubting everything your children say. They may tend to think people would still judge them even after telling the truth; making them question the differences between being honest and being a liar.
Child mythomania can spoil a child’s future social relationships. When the friends of a mythomaniac child discover that the latter lies all the time, they’re probably not going to want to continue the friendship. As a result, the child will feel rejected and excluded, which will lower his or her self-esteem.
This type of situation would also make the child want to lie even more in order to disguise the situation.
If child mythomania isn’t treated, the child will grow up to be an adult who doesn’t do anything else but lie. He’ll start to see lying as a way of living. He’ll lie to gain everyone’s sympathy and will transform real events into exaggerated stories.
It gets to a point where mythomaniac people actually believe the lies they tell, making it difficult for them to adapt to the real world. This is why most people don’t feel satisfied with their work or friendships.
You can prevent child mythomania from continuing into adulthood by making an effort to figure out the reasons why your child decides to lie. Pay attention to his or her behavior and attitudes, and don’t hesitate to take action when you have to.
All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.
- Casas Rivera, R., & Zamarro Arranz, M. L. (1990). La mitomanía en la clínica actual. A propósito de un caso clínico. Revista de La Asociación Española de Neuropsiquiatría.
- Chica Toro, L. Y., & Cifuentes, N. (2021). Características de la mentira en niños entre 3 y 5 años al haber sido expuestos a cuentos que promueven la adopción del comportamiento moral de no mentir. http://repositorio.udea.edu.co/bitstream/10495/25063/13/ChicaLaura_2021_MentirasCuentosMoral.pdf
- Dithrich, C. W. (1993). Pseudologia fantastica, dissociation, and potential space in child treatment. Master Clinicians on Treating the Regressed Patient, Vol. 2.
- King, B. H., & Ford, C. V. (1988). Pseudologia fantastica. Acta Psychiatrica Scandinavica. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1600-0447.1988.tb05068.x
- Lapidus, J. (2005). La mentira infantil (Doctoral dissertation, Universidad de Belgrano. Facultad de Humanidades.). http://126.96.36.199/bitstream/handle/123456789/234/163_lapidus.pdf?sequence=2&isAllowed=y