parent-child interaction in children with adhd

The Parent-Child interaction, in children with ADHD

Dr Shelley Hyman

Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a chronic and pervasive childhood disorder that is characterised by inattentive, hyperactive and impulsive behaviours. It comes with no surprise that such behaviours commonly weaken the relationship the parent has with their child and induces large amounts of stress on the parents.

Moreover, studies have proposed that over time, counterproductive parenting behaviour and parental stress may lead to the adoption of maladaptive forms of parenting that can exacerbate ADHD symptom severity.

For example, a meta-analysis conducted by Theule and her colleagues (2010) found that parents of children with ADHD are more likely to experience parenting stress, compared to parents with children without a clinical disorder. Further, they also found that symptom severity of ADHD was also linked to parenting stress.

Another study conducted by McLaughln and Harrison (2006) analysed the relationship between various parenting factors (including their parenting competence and practice) with their perceived severity of their child’s disruptive behaviour.

They found that a combination of these parenting variables was significantly associated with 32% of the variance in how they perceived the severity of ADHD within their child. Other studies have found that poor parenting is one of the strongest predictors of negative long-term outcomes in children with behaviour problems.

In light of this research, there lies a large body of evidence highlighting the efficacy of behavioural parenting training as a treatment for ADHD. Behavioural parenting training  involves teaching parents behavioural strategies like identifying and changing the antecedents and consequences of their child’s actions, monitoring problematic behaviours, increasing positive behaviour (e.g. providing rewards praise and positive attention, and decreasing unwanted behaviour (e.g. giving time out).

These studies suggest that improving the interaction between the parent and child may improve outcomes for the child. Providing early intervention for childhood disorders like ADHD is vital, as the effects of ADHD when left untreated can have severe consequences for the patient as they progress to adolescence and beyond.

Here at SCDC, we offer services that involve working on parent-child interactions as a form of intervention for children with learning disabilities. We understand how parenting. For more information, or to book a consultation, call us on (02) 9387 6166.


  • McLaughlin, D., & Harrison, C. (2006). Parenting Practices of Mothers of Children with ADHD: The Role of Maternal and Child Factors. Child And Adolescent Mental Health, 11(2), 82-88.
  • Theule, J., Wiener, J., Tannock, R., & Jenkins, J. (2010). Parenting Stress in Families of Children With ADHD. Journal Of Emotional And Behavioral Disorders, (1), 3-17.
Dr Shelley Hyman

About Dr Shelley Hyman

Senior Clinical Neuropsychologist. BSc (psychol) Hons, MClinNeuropsych, PhD (Med) MAPS CCN. Founder and director of the centre that was founded in 2006.