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Parental Awareness Decreases Behavior Problems for Teens with ADHD


Parenting is challenging no matter the age of the child. Parenting teens can be especially difficult. And parenting defiant and disobedient teens can be extremely problematic. Teens with attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) exhibit behaviors that can test even the most diligent parenting practices. The impulsivity, poor academic adherence, lack of attention and overall rebellious nature of ADHD teens can result in less-than-optimal parenting techniques. Numerous studies have shown that teens with ADHD are at increased risk for a variety of negative outcomes, including substance use, lower academic achievement, and oppositional behavior. Novel approaches for treating this issue have focused not only on addressing the behavior of the children, but also the parenting practices of caregivers.

In a recent study, Christine A. P. Walther of the Department of Psychology at the University of Pittsburgh explored how positive parenting practices affected the risk of maladaptive outcomes for teens with and without ADHD. Walther enlisted 142 adolescents with ADHD and 100 without and evaluated how parental supervision and awareness influenced substance use and delinquency throughout their teen years. The results revealed that the teens with the highest levels of parental knowledge of their whereabouts and activities had the lowest levels of delinquency and substance misuse. This was especially evident in the teens with ADHD.

When Walther looked at specific behaviors, she found that positive parenting had the strongest effect on minimizing alcohol use among teens with ADHD. Although enacting vigilant parenting strategies can be arduous at times, and especially hard when working with teens predisposed to rebellious behavior, the benefits are clearly worth the effort. Parents who seek treatment methods that incorporate parenting skills and behavior modification for children may be able to help their teens avoid the long-term negative consequences of destructive behaviors that begin in adolescence. Walther hopes that these findings prompt other research aimed at exploring unexplored areas of the parent-child relationship in families dealing with ADHD. “Future studies that attempt to distinguish between parental efforts to monitor and teen decisions to disclose may be beneficial,” she said.

Walther, Christine A P, JeeWon Cheong, Brooke S G Molina, William E. Pelham Jr., Brian T. Wymbs, Katharine A. Belendiuk, and Sarah L. Pedersen. Substance use and delinquency among adolescents with childhood ADHD: The protective role of parenting. Psychology of Addictive Behaviors 26.3 (2012): 585-98. Print.

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  • Larry c October 30th, 2012 at 3:15 PM #1

    With any type of issue like ADD or ADHD it is critical that the parents are involved in not only the problem but also musy find ways to become a part of the solution. This is not something that a child or even a teen can navigate on his own. This is a very real problem that necessitates the involvement of parents who are concerned about his well being and are willing to supplement what the teachers and the counselors need them to do to help this child be a success. This sort of diagnosis does not automatically mean that there has to be issues in school as a result. It only means that everyone has to find a way to work together as a team to make it happen.

  • Sage October 30th, 2012 at 3:40 PM #2

    Okay, yes, awareness of the problem is part of the solution. But how about a real willingness to get involved? I think that a bigger issue with many families is the tendency for the parents to really check out when a problem comes up- they see what they want to see and when it gets tough, eh well, that’s something that they will lieave up to the teacher to handle. In my eyes I have a bigger job than that and just leaving thiis to someone else to solve is a real problem.

  • marti October 31st, 2012 at 4:09 AM #3

    I think that there are times that many parents are totally in the dark about some of the issues their kids are facing.

    The kids keep it kind of quiet and the teachers are not communicating to them the problems that they see so parents are often the very last to know when something like this is happening especially once the kids get older.

  • viki October 31st, 2012 at 4:40 AM #4

    i cannot tell you how important it is for parents to be aware of the issues that teens can have.yes you were a teen too but it is different now and the issues we face may not be the same as you did.so please before dismissing us as crazy teens consider knowing of our issues too.

  • Jon October 31st, 2012 at 2:37 PM #5

    When there’s a disorder that someone has,and especially in the family,it makes sense to know as much as possible about the disorder.That can help you,the affected family member and all the other people in the family. When parental involvement is present it can make the difficult road to recovery somewhat easier.

  • Sadie October 31st, 2012 at 2:40 PM #6

    So once again, the kids whose parents really don’t give a rip about what they do in school or how they behave are destined to get the short end of the stick.

    Any child who is fortunate enough to have parents who get involved and stay informed and involved are very lucky. They are the ones who can pull through this because they know that they have the resources and the support to make it work.

    It is the children who are already lacking in this area who are the ones who face the crisis. They don’t have any support or guidance at home, and if there are not parents driving the issue at home at school then they are also faced with having very little support at school too.

  • Paul.V November 1st, 2012 at 12:13 AM #7

    The number one reason for people not being able to understand someone with a disorder is because they know nothing about the disorder itself! Call it ignorance or apathy, the person with the disorder is the sufferer.

    And when this happens in the family it can be heart breaking. The family is seen as the unit that is open to anything and if even they do not understand you then it can be very hard for the one with the disorder!

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