Do Parents Seek a Diagnosis of ADHD instead of Disciplining Children?

by Eileen Bailey Health Writer

Some critics of ADHD indicate that parents rely on a diagnosis of ADHD as a way to not discipline their children. These critics believe that ADHD is a reflection on today's society, our current values and a breakdown in families. Based on this theory, ADHD is overdiagnosed.

Research, however, does not back up this theory. Brain scans have shown a correlation between underactive brain activity in the frontal lobe and children with ADHD. Activity in the frontal region of the brain helps with problem solving, planning, understanding other people and in impulse control. Less activity in this area of the brain may cause deficiencies in these areas. The National Institute of Mental Health Child Psychiatry Branch completed research in 2002 showing the correlation between smaller brains and ADHD. [3]

According to the American Medical Association, research "points to ADHD as a developmental disorder of probable neurogentic origin." [4]

The theory that parents seek out a diagnosis of ADHD in order to make parenting easier would also lead to the theory that poor parenting causes ADHD. According to the National Resource Center for ADHD, poor parenting skills can sometimes exacerbate symptoms of ADHD, but do not cause it. ADHD. For many parents, seeking a diagnosis of ADHD is seeking out an answer to behaviors that are not understood. It is a parent's attempt to resolve, improve and understand their child's behavior. Most parents, when seeking a diagnosis are looking for solutions and in doing so, are exhibiting good parenting techniques.

See All of This Series:

Is ADHD Overdiagnosed?

Can ADHD Be Accurately Diagnosed?

Are We Overmedicating Our Children?

Pharmaceutical Companies Making a Profit on ADHD

Do Parents Seek a Diagnosis of ADHD instead of Disciplining Children?


ADHD Understanding the Problem, Updated 2008, March 24, TelosNet

"About Us - Feingold Association", 2008, Feingold Association of the United States

[1] "Almost Half of Kids With ADHD Are Not Being Treated, Study Finds", 2006, Aug 6, Washington University School of Medicine

[2] "Is ADHD Being Overdiagnosed", 1998, Nov 16, Meg Kissinger, Journal Sentinel

"ADHD Controversy", Date Unknown, Guy, FDU

"Dramatic Rise in ADHD Sparks Controversy" 2000, Dec 15, Diane Weaver Dunne, Education World

"ADHD", Reviewed 2005, Jan 30, Ronald Pies, WebMD

"Myths and Misunderstandings", 2007, Author Unknown, Help for ADHD, National Resource Center for ADHD

[4] Report 10 of the Council on Science and Public Health: Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, 2008, June 2, CSAPH, American Medical Association

[3] "What Causes ADHD?", Last reviewed 2008, June 26, National Institute of Mental Health

[5] "International Consensus Statement on ADHD, 2002, Jan, Clinical Child and Family Psychology Review

"Adult ADHD Underdiagnosed", 2008, May 6, Charlene Laino,

[6] "ADHD Underdiagnosed in Girls", 2000, April 1, Ellen B. Littman, Family Practice News

Eileen Bailey
Meet Our Writer
Eileen Bailey

Eileen Bailey is an award-winning author of six books on health and parenting topics and freelance writer specializing in health topics including ADHD, Anxiety, Sexual Health, Skin Care, Psoriasis and Skin Cancer. Her wish is to provide readers with relevant and practical information on health conditions to help them make informed decisions regarding their health care.