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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