Category: ADHD - Child

PS3- #A5 - Associations of and Sex Differences in the Relations Among ADHD, Oppositional Defiant Disorder, and Parent Behavior

Friday, Nov 17
11:00 AM – 12:00 PM
Location: Indigo Ballroom CDGH, Level 2, Indigo Level

Keywords: ADHD - Child / Adolescent | Child Externalizing | Parenting

Child behavior exerts a strong influence on parenting behavior. Specifically, symptoms of ODD and ADHD influence parenting behavior in childhood. However, ODD symptoms and aggression may exert more influence on parenting than symptoms of ADHD (Gomez & Swanson, 1994; Stormshak et al., 2000). It is worth noting that much of this literature is focused on young children and the nature of the parent/child relationship changes as children move into adolescence. The influence of the behavior of adolescents on parenting has not been investigated and there is reason to believe that it may differ from findings related to young children due to the many differences in the relationship including increased parent/child conflict relative to childhood (Fleming et al. 2010). Thus, in this study we evaluated the associations among adolescents’ symptoms of ODD and ADHD and parenting behavior.

Sex differences in these relations are also critical to examine because there are differences in how parents adjust to adolescents based on child sex (McGue et al., 2005). Some studies have found that specific negative parenting practices are uniquely associated with negative outcomes for boys (Buehler et al., 2006; Tung et al., 2012), whereas others found no sex differences in these relations (Browne et al., 2010; Compton et al., 2003).  Given inconsistent findings in this area, this study sought to clarify whether there are sex differences in the relations between adolescent and parenting behavior.

Participants were N = 149 high school students participating in a larger clinical trial (M = 14.5 years old, SD = .86; 78% boys). Parents and adolescents completed a diagnostic evaluation and parents completed questionnaires about their parenting behavior.

 After controlling for sex, race/ethnicity, socio-economic status (SES), and ADHD symptoms, results suggest that ODD symptom severity is positively associated with inconsistent discipline, but not related to corporal punishment. However, ADHD symptom severity was associated with greater use of corporal punishment and inconsistent discipline after controlling for sex, race/ethnicity, SES, and ODD symptoms. Neither ADHD nor ODD symptoms were associated with parental monitoring, positive involvement in adolescents’ lives, or positive parenting strategies. Finally, sex moderated the relation between ADHD symptoms and inconsistent discipline such that this relation is stronger in girls.

Results suggest that, in adolescence, ADHD symptom severity may lead to frustration in parents that results in uneven application of discipline and harsh punishments. Interestingly, ODD symptoms were not associated with corporal punishment; this is inconsistent with findings from the child literature and suggests that symptoms of ODD may be less distressing to parents of adolescents than symptoms of ADHD. Additionally, results regarding moderation are interesting and inconsistent with prior research that found that the relation between ADHD symptoms and parenting was stronger in boys. Researchers may wish to further explore mechanisms that account for sex differences in the relations among child and parent behavior and how the impact of sex may change across development. 

Maurene E. Kawecki

Ohio University
Olmsted Falls, Ohio

W. John Monopoli

Ohio University

Kristen Kipperman

Lehigh University

Noah Lorincz-Comi

Ohio University

Chelsea Hustus

Ohio University

Kari Benson

Ohio University

Julie S. Owens

Ohio University
Athens, Ohio

George J. DuPaul

Lehigh University

Steven W. Evans

Ohio University