Does Child Temperament Play a Role in the Association Between Parenting Practices and Child Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder?

Josie M. Ullsperger, Joel T. Nigg, Molly A. Nikolas

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

29 Scopus citations


Ineffective parenting practices may maintain or exacerbate attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) symptoms and shape subsequent development of disruptive behavior disorders (DBD’s) in youth with ADHD. Recent theoretical models have suggested that parenting may exert effects on ADHD via its role in child temperament. The current study aimed to evaluate the indirect effects of parenting dimensions on child ADHD symptoms via child temperament. Youth ages 6–17 years (N = 498; 50.4 % ADHD, 55 % male) completed a multi-stage, multi-informant assessment that included parent, child, and teacher report measures of parenting practices, child temperament, and ADHD symptoms. Statistical models examined the direct and indirect effects of maternal and paternal involvement, poor supervision, and inconsistent discipline on inattention and hyperactivity-impulsivity via child temperament and personality traits. Results indicated differential patterns of effect for negative and positive parenting dimensions. First, inconsistent discipline exerted indirect effects on both ADHD symptom dimensions via child conscientiousness, such that higher levels of inconsistency predicted lower levels of conscientiousness, which in turn, predicted greater ADHD symptomatology. Similarly, poor supervision also exerted indirect effects on inattention via child conscientiousness as well as significant indirect effects on hyperactivity-impulsivity via its impact on both child reactive control and conscientiousness. In contrast, primarily direct effects of positive parenting (i.e., involvement) on ADHD emerged. Secondary checks revealed that similar pathways may also emerge for comorbid disruptive behavior disorders. Current findings extend upon past work by examining how parenting practices influence child ADHD via with-in child mechanisms and provide support for multi-pathway models accounting for heterogeneity in the disorder.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)167-178
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Abnormal Child Psychology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2016


  • ADHD
  • Multiple mediation
  • Parenting
  • Temperament

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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