In this longitudinal population-based cohort (N = 547) we examined the relation between maternal discipline and sensitivity in the preschool period and the occurrence of attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) symptoms in middle childhood, taking into account pre-existing child attention and executive function (EF) problems, and oppositional defiant disorder (ODD) symptom comorbidity. Maternal parenting was observed during a ‘do not touch task’ (positive and negative discipline) and a teaching task (sensitivity) at age 3. Parents reported on the occurrence of ADHD and ODD symptoms at age 8 using the Conners’ Parent Rating Scale. Attention and executive function problems were assessed using parent questionnaires at age 4. Important covariates such as harsh discipline and maternal depression were also taken into account. Maternal sensitivity significantly predicted later ADHD symptoms beyond pre-existing child attention and EF problems, and comorbid ODD symptoms. However, maternal negative and positive discipline did not significantly predict later ADHD symptoms over and above these covariates. This study demonstrates the importance of maternal sensitivity in the etiology of core ADHD symptoms above and beyond pre-existing child attention and EF problems, and comorbid ODD symptoms.

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Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology
Department of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry and Psychology

Choenni, V. (Vandhana), Lambregtse-van den Berg, M., Verhulst, F., Tiemeier, H., & Kok, R. (2018). The Longitudinal Relation between Observed Maternal Parenting in the Preschool Period and the Occurrence of Child ADHD Symptoms in Middle Childhood. Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology. doi:10.1007/s10802-018-0492-9