The mental health of parents can influence whether children with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder will develop conduct problems such as lying, fighting, bullying and stealing, according to University of Maryland researchers.
The study, published in the American Psychological Association’s Journal, Developmental Psychology, found that early positive parenting during the preschool years predicted fewer conduct problems as the children grew to early adolescence. The strength of the findings led the researchers to conclude that maternal depression may be a risk factor, whereas positive parenting may be a protective factor.
“This research gives us clear targets for early intervention to prevent conduct problems in children with ADHD,” says Andrea Chronis, director of the University of Maryland ADHD Program and professor of psychology who served as lead author on the paper. “In the real world, this could have important implications, because research has suggested that children with both ADHD and conduct problems are at the greatest risk of becoming chronic criminal offenders.”
The researchers say their study is the first to focus directly on the role of parent mental health and early parenting in the development of conduct problems among children with ADHD. Moreover, they point to previous research that shows the development of conduct problems to be quite common in children with ADHD. By one estimate, approximately 20 to 50 percent of children and 44 to 50 percent of adolescents with ADHD experience severe conduct problems.
“Parenting an ADHD child is very difficult for many families,” Chronis says. “Often there’s a growing cycle of negativity as parents’ nerves fray and their children’s behavior escalates in response to increasingly harsh or withdrawn parenting. Maternal depression makes parenting a child with ADHD even more challenging. Now we have new evidence that praise, a warm tone of voice and use of other positive parenting techniques may help break this dangerous cycle.”
Source: University of Maryland