Calm Parenting Reduces ADHD Behaviors

If you feel as if nothing you do helps your child with ADHD manage his emotions and behaviors, take a deep breath and count to 10. A new study confirms what most of us know—but many forget in the heat of the moment: staying calm and being positive can help even the youngest kids with ADHD manage their emotions and behaviors.

The study was conducted with parents of 4 to 6 year olds who had been diagnosed with hyperactive/impulsive or combined types of ADHD. According toTheodore Beauchaine, professor of psychology at Ohio State University and lead author of the study published in the journal Clinical Psychological Science, the children selected to participate in the study were in the top 2 percent of those who displayed ADHD behavioral issues.

Intervention Study

The study involved monitoring and evaluating the parents and children who took part in a special intervention program. “We taught parents to use better discipline practices, as these parents tend to be overreactive and sometimes even physical,” said Beauchaine.

As the parents became more adept at displaying calm, positive behaviors, their children began to moderate their behaviors too. While the researchers hoped for this result, they were nonetheless caught off guard by how quickly the intervention worked:

We were surprised at how fast it happened. We evaluated moms and their kids before the intervention and after the intervention, which took a couple of months. Then we did a one-year follow-up. We expected that we may find some of these outcomes at one year, but not at two months, and we found them at two months.

After the intervention, the children’s heart rates slowed down, and they breathed more slowly and were more calm.

Beauchaine hopes to see parents begin ADHD behavioral interventions earlier. “When people see that there are biological changes that go along with an intervention, it increases the status and reduces stigma.”

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