Myth: Poor Parenting Causes ADHD

Eileen Bailey Health Guide
  • Behaviors that are common in children with ADHD can seem like misbehaviors caused by parenting. Children can be impulsive, not waiting their turn or blurting out answers, they can seem as if they are not listening. But these are symptoms caused by ADHD, not by bad parenting.


    ADHD is considered to be hereditary in many cases, although the exact cause of ADHD is not known. Studies have shown that relatives of children with ADHD are more likely to have ADHD as well. Children with parents that have ADHD have a one in two chance of also having ADHD.


    Poor parenting skills do not cause ADHD. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, there have been many studies to try to find the cause of ADHD in order to better understand and better treat it. These studies have found that ADHD is caused by biological factors. The home environment has not been found to be a cause of ADHD.

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    Even so, many parents feel guilty, sure that they have done something to create the behaviors in their children. Misinformed friends and relatives might add to the guilt, avoiding inviting the family to activities or outings. Some may comment on behaviors, implying that "with a little more discipline" your child would be better behaved. Parents, exasperated and frazzled from raising a child with ADHD can begin to believe that they are the cause of the bad behaviors. Hopefully, as more and more is learned about ADHD, parents will understand that they have not caused the ADHD to be present.


    Parents, however, can create a home life more conducive to helping a child with ADHD. They can implement organizational strategies, provide structure and support, be involved in their child's education and seek medical treatment and educational interventions when needed.


    By learning as much as possible about ADHD, parents take the first step toward understanding their child's behaviors. Implementing a reward and consequence system of discipline has been shown to work well for children with ADHD.


    When parents work together with their medical professionals to create a treatment plan catered to the child's individual needs, their children can succeed.




    What Causes Attention deficit Disorders? Regina Bussing, MD,, Oct 4, 2006


    Attention Deficit Disorder, Margaret Strock, National Institute of Mental Health, 2006

Published On: August 28, 2007