Category: Parenting / Families
Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), the most common childhood mental health disorder, affects 3 to 9 % of school-aged children and is characterized by developmentally inappropriate and impairing levels of inattention, hyperactivity, and impulsivity (APA, 2013). Children with ADHD often have comorbid psychopathology such as oppositional defiant disorder and conduct disorder. Additionally, up to half of children with ADHD also suffer from comorbid internalizing disorders (Barkley, 2006). ADHD in childhood has been associated with risk for adverse outcomes in adolescence and adulthood such as risky behavior, delinquency, substance use (Mannuzza et al., 2004). Parents play a key role in buffering against adverse outcomes; however, due to the nature of ADHD symptoms (e.g. disorganization, disobedience), these children often elicit more negative responses from parents (Harpin, 2005). Positive parenting interventions that aim to improve the quality of the parent-child relationship, teach adaptive skills, encourage positive behavior, and appropriately handle misbehavior have largely been successful (Hoath & Sanders, 2002). While the link between ADHD, positive parenting, and later externalizing problems is well established, there is limited longitudinal research on the potential protective role of positive parenting on the relation between comorbid internalizing disorders and ADHD (Pfiffner & McBurnett, 2006; Becker et al., 2012). This study examines the moderating effect of positive parenting on the relation between ADHD symptoms in preadolescence and internalizing symptoms (IS) in adolescence. It was hypothesized that higher levels of ADHD symptoms in preadolescence will be associated with higher levels of IS in adolescence. Additionally, it was expected that higher positive parenting would mitigate this effect for children with higher ADHD symptoms.
Participants included 186 children from a longitudinal study of emotional and social development. ADHD symptoms at age 10 were assessed using teacher-report on the ADHD Rating Scale-IV (DuPaul, Power, Anastopoulos, & Reid, 1998). Positive parenting was assessed using the Alabama Parenting Questionnaire (Frick, 1991). Internalizing symptoms at age 15 were measured using child-report on the Behavior Assessment System for Children(Reynolds & Kaumphaus, 1992).
Multiple regression analyses indicated that, controlling for earlier internalizing symptoms, there was a significant interaction between positive parenting and ADHD symptoms in predicting later internalizing symptoms (β = -.216, p < 0.05).Specifically, children with higher ADHD symptoms and lower positive parenting displayed higher levels of internalizing symptoms than children with higher positive parenting. This study demonstrated that children with ADHD symptoms in preadolescence were more likely to experience higher levels of internalizing symptoms in adolescence only if they had parents who were less positive. This finding highlights the protective effect of positive parenting for children with ADHD symptoms. Future research can examine the effect of other parenting factors that may also reduce risk for internalizing symptoms for children with ADHD.
Melanie Maddox– University of North Carolina at Greensboro, Greensboro
Jenny Robb– University of North Carolina at Greensboro
Susan Keane– University of North Carolina at Greensboro
Susan Calkins– University of North Carolina at Greensboro
Lilly Shanahan– University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill