Raising a child with ADHD can cause anxiety and stress for mothers, according to a new study. The research suggests that mothers of children with ADHD are more attentive to the moods of their children and often their moods shift based on the behaviors their children are exhibiting. Candice Odgers, a researcher on the study, and psychologist at the University of California, Irvine, said, “If you think about what it’s like to parent a child with ADHD, it requires a kind of constant vigilance, a high level of energy. This is important, because we know that stress and the burden of caregiving in general are associated with a whole host of problems, mental health and physical problems.” She also believes that the lack of educational funding causes a financial and emotional toll on parents of children with ADHD. These factors contribute to increased stress and raise the risk for divorce and decrease a parent’s feeling of competence in raising their child adequately.
The study, led by University of California, Irvine, psychologist Carol Whalen, surveyed 51 mothers of children with ADHD and control participants to ascertain the children’s behavior patterns and the mothers’ moods over the course of one week. The mothers and children were instructed to record their moods every half an hour using digital reminders. The findings showed that the parents’ stress levels did coincide with the negative behaviors reported by the children, and fluctuated more when the mothers had a psychological problem of their own. The results stress the importance of addressing the emotional needs of the entire family unit when providing mental health services to a child with ADHD. Odgers added, “These are really important links between children’s behavior and mom’s mood and levels of stress. We know from a lot of other research that mom’s mental health is a very, very strong predictor of her parenting style.”
© Copyright 2011 by By John Smith, therapist in Bellingham, Washington. All Rights Reserved. Permission to publish granted to GoodTherapy.org.
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