Critical parenting tied to persistent ADHD

I read an interesting study this week that showed a link between parental criticism and persistent ADHD.

It’s common for ADHD symptoms to decrease as children get older. That’s not true for all cases, though, and an important question for those developing treatment strategies and medications for ADHD is: What’s the difference?

This study identifies one difference. The researchers examined over 500 children–some with the attention disorder and some without–and their families for three years. They asked parents on two occasions to talk about their relationship with their child uninterrupted for five minutes.

In those families where parents used harsh, negative language when talking about the child, the child failed to show the usual improvement in ADHD symptoms over the three year period.

As with all studies, saying the connection shows a cause would be inaccurate. All they know right now is that there’s a link between parental criticism and persistent ADHD.

Here’s what one of the researchers says:

“We cannot say, from our data, that criticism is the cause of the sustained symptoms. Interventions to reduce parental criticism could lead to a reduction in ADHD symptoms, but other efforts to improve the severe symptoms of children with ADHD could also lead to a reduction in parental criticism, creating greater well-being in the family over time.”

ADHD is hard on families.  That’s one reason I recommend involving the whole family in therapy for this and many other disorders.

Go here to read more about the study and here to read more about ADHD.

Satu Woodland is owner and clinician of Mental Health Solutions, an integrative mental health practice located at Bown Crossing in Boise, Idaho. She sees children, adolescents, and adults.

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