OSU Researchers Find Restriction of “Aggressive” Punishment Helps ADHD Children

Cutting back on yelling, criticism and other harsh parenting approaches, including physical punishment, has the power to calm children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, according to a new study.

Researchers from The Ohio State University evaluated physiological markers of emotional regulation in preschool children with ADHD before and after a parent and child intervention aimed at improving family relations. Changes in parenting – including less yelling and physical discipline – led to improvements in children’s biological regulation.

Reductions in negative parenting were found to drive improved biological function in children. Increases in positive parenting had no effect.

The researchers also observed each parent and child during a 30-minute play session in the family home and video-recorded positive and negative parenting approaches. Positive parenting included praise, encouragement and problem-solving. Negative parenting included critical statements, physical discipline and commands that gave children no opportunity to comply.

Less-harsh parenting also was linked to improved behavior in children, a finding that bolsters previous research in this area.