Study: Reducing Harsh Parenting Approaches Helps Children With ADHD

Reduction in harsh parenting techniques can make a difference in children who have ADHD.Science proves that ‘harsh’ parenting approaches rarely work with children, particularly in kids with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD).

Research from The Ohio State University has been released and suggests that parents who pull back on harsher parenting approaches like yelling and physical punishment may have better success in dealing with their children who have Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD).

The researchers looked at preschool children with ADHD and their physiological markers of emotional regulation before and after an intervention with parents. They found that changes in parenting styles, including the parents using less yelling and physical discipline, actually helped improve the children’s biological regulation.

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Dr. Theodore Beauchaine is the study’s lead author and said that this study shows that parenting changes can actually change biological reactions in their children. He believes that changing parenting approaches and family dynamics can help children with ADHD regulate better, which will lead to fewer problems in school and even fewer problems later in life, like delinquent and criminal behavior.

The study gave the parents of 99 preschoolers diagnosed with ADHD parental coaching. The parents were given problem-solving skills and positive parenting techniques to effectively deal with their children’s behaviors. At the same time, the children were also given the opportunity to talk with therapists who taught them emotional regulation and anger management.

After the training and evaluations, the researchers found that the changes in parenting approaches — specifically the reduction of negative parenting like yelling or harsh punishment actually drove improved biological function in the children.

Beauchaine said that the less-harsh parenting that was observed, which included critical talk and physical discipline, had a big effect on the children, and after 20 weeks of parenting classes, on the parents as well.

Related: Childhood Sleep Disturbances May Be Misdiagnosed as ADHD

The biggest struggle for the children was mostly with hyperactivity and impulsivity, and 76% of the children in the study were boys, as is similar to the rate of ADHD in the general population. Beauchaine says that this research is important as parenting children with ADHD has a tremendous set of challenges for parents, as well as the children.

He said a lot of times, it seems like young children and their parents don’t like each other very much, but hopes that this information and an initiative to use less harsh parenting strategies may be able to help both parents and children.


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