Could high expectations in parent-child relationships raise ADHD diagnoses?

Parents with high expectations are more likely to have kids with ADHD
Published: Apr. 6, 2016 at 10:45 PM CDT|Updated: Apr. 6, 2016 at 11:00 PM CDT
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CAPE GIRARDEAU, MO (KFVS) - Parents could be pushing their kids too hard, but how do you keep children motivated without pushing them to their breaking point?

Researchers said ADHD diagnoses have increased about 30 percent over the past 20 years and believe it's largely based on environmental factors.

A new study from the Journal of the American Medical Association of Pediatrics talks about a connection between adults with unreasonable expectations and their children getting diagnosed with ADHD.

Most parents and teachers said pushing children too much can make things worse - and that goes for children with ADHD, too.

"I think that kids are busier now than they used to be,"  Lead Teacher Megan St. John said.

"Definitely you're the harshest critic too, and you see other kids doing things and you wonder should my kid be doing that?" mother Jourdan Huber said.

"I think any over stimulation for a kid can make it hard for them to relax and come back down and unwind, you know... it would be the difference between you can't just stop running a marathon and 'go take a nap,'" St. John said. "They're not outside as much... but we know that 20, 30 years ago that's been a big change."

The study even indicates that pushing kids too hard can make their attention deficit disorder worse.

St. John said if children are constantly going, sometimes they lose track of what's important.

"If they're constantly 'on the go, on the go,' it's hard to get back to that starting point of 'this is where I need to be working', whether i'm working in math class or English class or whatever it is that they're doing."

Lead Teacher Katie Rumfelt said it's best to look at each child on an individual basis.

"I try to not have expectations for children because they're all very different and have different personalities."

Huber said her brother was diagnosed with ADHD but she said it's not a bad thing to have. Huber says she and her brother were different, but he also had desirable qualities she didn't have.

"It was just one thing after another after another and I could never keep up with every thought that was spinning off the top of his head and that's just how some people are wired. It isn't a bad thing, it's genius - and I think if you medicate that, it's bad."

"At that age, what's most important is free play, social interactions, using your imagination. We need to be careful that our demands aren't making children feel like they're getting it 'wrong.' We want them to love learning, " lead researcher Dr. Jeffrey Brosco, associate director of the university's Mailman Center for Child Development, told SSM Health St. Louis.

Brosco's research also showed how the amount of children in full-day programs have increased from 17 percent to 58 percent from 1980 to the mid 2000s.

His research suggests today's high demands and change in education policy over the years has raised the bar for ADHD diagnoses.

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