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Does Your Child Tell Outrageous Stories to Get Attention?

Nadine Briggs

Many children with social challenges crave attention from their peers and aspire to be perceived as interesting and cool. This can lead some to stretch the truth or concoct completely outrageous stories to capture that attention. Often, they may not realize when their tales move from “perhaps believable” to “outright unbelievable.” Unfortunately, once their peers catch on to the falsehoods, these children can develop a reputation as liars.

As a parent, it’s important to guide your child toward healthier ways to receive attention and interact with others, especially for those facing social difficulties. Here are some tips to help you understand and manage this behavior in children:

Tip 1: Understand the ‘Why’

Begin by exploring the root cause of this behavior. Children, especially those with conditions like Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) or social anxiety, might feel unnoticed or overshadowed by their peers. Telling shocking stories might be their way of capturing immediate attention and making themselves memorable. This behavior signals a desire to connect, albeit without the necessary social skills.

Tip 2: Discuss the Risks

Help your child understand the risks associated with telling sensational stories. If peers realize a child frequently fabricates stories, they’ll likely become skeptical of everything the child says. Such a reputation can be hard to reverse once established.

Tip 3: Enhance Conversation Skills

Children with social challenges often benefit from explicit coaching on social norms and behaviors. Teach them how to initiate conversations and share interesting yet true aspects of their lives. Encourage them to find common interests with peers, rather than attempting to outshine them.

Tip 4: Reinforce Positive Interactions

When your child interacts positively and appropriately with others, offer praise and positive reinforcement. Phrases like “I was really impressed by…” or “I noticed that you…” can be very effective. This reinforcement helps your child understand the benefits of appropriate social behavior and motivates them to continue.

Tip 5: Boost Self-Esteem

Children who resort to storytelling often feel that their true selves aren’t enough. Highlight the genuinely interesting aspects of your child’s personality and experiences to help them feel confident being themselves without embellishments.


Encouraging your child to move away from fabricating stories for attention and toward healthier, more constructive forms of communication is a journey that requires empathy, strategic intervention, and continuous support. By understanding the motives behind the behavior, reinforcing positive interactions, and providing ample opportunities for social growth, you can help your child develop the necessary skills to navigate their social world more effectively. Remember, each small step forward represents a significant victory in building their confidence and ability to express themselves appropriately and form meaningful relationships.

If you have a child/teen/young adult with has difficulty making friends, contact us for a free trial at 978-764-2758 or schedule an intake

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