According to a recent study published in the Journal of Family Psychology, [Whalen et al., (2011). Dissecting daily distress in mothers of children with ADHD: An electronic diary study. Journal of Family Psychology, 25, 402-411.], parents of children with ADHD experience high stress levels on a daily and ongoing basis that is tied directly to their child’s behaviors and symptoms of ADHD. Using real-time monitoring tools to record levels of stress over a 7-day period, mothers of children with ADHD who participated in the study documented every 30 minutes during non-school hours both their child’s behaviors and their personal level of distress. Participating children used an electronic diary device to record their moods and behaviors, independent of their mother’s input.
Not too surprisingly, the study concluded that maternal stress is related to the behaviors of the child with ADHD, and maternal distress is highest when the child reported him or herself to be angry, impatient, or restless. The study also concluded that mothers are more reactive to their child’s negative behaviors. When children display negative behaviors or exhibit mood states such as oppositional behavior, hyperactivity or anger, the mothers' distress level increases significantly and are greater in mothers whose child has ADHD and who report higher rates of ADHD symptoms, depression and child-related stress. These mothers at higher risk of stress also appear to be highly sensitive to negative behaviors in their child and are more likely to respond by experiencing increasing distress.
As the study authors conclude, “Results from this study have several important implications, including the importance of recognizing the impact that ADHD can have on parents and of providing parents with necessary treatment and support. Too often, children themselves are the sole focus of ADHD treatment and important issues that parents are struggling with do not receive sufficient attention. Also, these findings highlight the particular struggles that parents experience dealing effectively with the negative behaviors that occur more frequently in children with ADHD. Because such behavior triggers significant increases in what may already be high levels of distress, responding consistently in the ways that are often discussed in behavioral parent training programs may be especially difficult."
This suggests that there would be important value in helping parents develop skills to manage their distress in the moment, and to learn to recognize particular triggers of increased distress. The cumulative emotional toll of raising a child with a chronic disorder could be decreased through the use of parental coaching. Reducing negative emotional reactions to such challenging child behaviors could make it easier for parents to follow through consistently with behavioral strategies they are trying to implement.
Learn how to implement effective behavior strategies through parental coaching with one of Portrait Health Centers licensed psychologists. Call (847) - 868-3435 or click below:
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Portrait Health Centers, the industry leader in the treatment of learning disorders for children and adults, shares tips, news, and advice about the treatment, diagnosis, and therapy options for people struggling with Attention Deficit (ADHD) and other learning disorders.