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Parents can help prevent development of ADHD symptoms in their kids: Study

A study co-authored by a University of Waterloo researcher suggests that parents of exuberant children can moderate ADHD development through engaged parenting, emphasising early intervention and directive guidance.

Rahul Pratyush Written By: Rahul Pratyush New Delhi Published on: February 16, 2024 13:05 IST
ADHD in kids
Image Source : GOOGLE Study suggests parents can prevent ADHD in kids

A recent study conducted by a University of Waterloo researcher suggests that parents of young children with an excitable or exuberant temperament can play a crucial role in moderating the potential development of Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) by modifying their parenting style. Developmental psychologists emphasize that temperament, parenting, and the brain's executive functions all contribute to the development of ADHD symptoms in childhood. The study, co-authored by Dr. Heather Henderson, a professor in developmental psychology at Waterloo, identified specific factors predicting a higher risk of ADHD symptoms, underscoring the significance of early targeted intervention.

Dr Henderson explains that a combination of traits labelled as ‘exuberance’ in child temperament, including high excitement, curiosity, and positive responses to unfamiliar people and contexts, coupled with family factors, may predispose some children to develop ADHD symptoms. The research highlights the potential for parents to influence the pathways leading to ADHD through more directive and engaged parenting behaviours, such as providing guidance with verbal and physical cues when their child encounters new situations.

While exuberance in preschoolers can be positive, studies show that exuberant children may struggle with self-regulation and executive functions like working memory and flexible thinking. Following 291 children from four months of age to 15 years, the researchers observed child temperament and parent-child interactions at three years, evaluated the child's executive functioning at four years, and examined parent-reported ADHD symptoms six times between ages five and 15. The study revealed that temperament and parenting dynamics interact to impact a child's developing executive functions.

The findings indicate that ADHD symptoms tend to increase throughout childhood, particularly when a child exhibits an early exuberant temperament, has low to normal executive functions, and receives less directive and engaged parenting during encounters with new situations. "Symptoms of ADHD typically stabilize from ages five to nine and decrease from ages nine to 15. But for predictable cases of very young children with exuberant temperament and less directive parenting, that stabilisation may not occur," Henderson said. 

"More directive parenting, which is not controlling but guides the child with verbal and physical cues, can help develop the child's self-regulatory skills and prevent their ADHD symptoms from increasing," he added.

(with ANI inputs)

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