The relationship between competence-support/-thwarting and ADHD symptoms in children and the mediating effect of self-control

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To understand better the role basic psychological need satisfaction versus frustration may play in ADHD symptoms in children, this study researched the relationship between competencesupport/– thwarting and ADHD symptoms in children, based on the Self-Determination Theory (SDT). Self-control was included as a possible mediator. Participants (n=43) were Dutch school children aged 8-13. Competence-support and –thwarting were measured with children and parents ratings, using a Dutch translation for the Interpersonal Behaviors Questionnaire (IBQ). Additionally, parents rated child ADHD symptoms using the Strengths and Weaknesses of ADHD symptoms and Normal behavior (SWAN), and self-control was measured using the percentage false alarms on a go/no-go task. Competence-thwarting, but only when assessed by parents, correlated negatively with child ADHD symptoms. Competence-support did not correlate significantly with ADHD symptoms, and self-control did not correlate significantly with competence-support, competence-thwarting or ADHD symptoms. Self-control did not mediate the association between competence thwarting and ADHD symptoms. In conclusion, higher levels of competence-thwarting correlated with ADHD symptoms, but self-control did not play a mediating role in this association. Because no claims regarding directionality could be made, longitudinal research is needed to determine whether parents’ competence thwarting leads to higher levels of ADHD in their child over time, or whether children’s ADHD symptoms predict parents’ competence thwarting over time, or whether this association may be bidirectional in nature. Eventually, this work may inform interventions that focus on enhancing parenting strategies in parents of children with ADHD.
Faculteit der Sociale Wetenschappen