The Influence of Daily Hassles, Maternal Attributions, Optimism, and Child Symptoms on the Mental Health of Mothers of Children with Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder

Lucy Buchholz Leibowitz

Major Professor: Jerome Short, PhD, Department of Psychology

Committee Members: Ellen Rowe, Elizabeth Chong

The Hub (SUB II), #3
April 22, 2013, 10:00 AM to 07:00 AM

Abstract:

Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder affects between four and eight percent of children in the United States between the ages of four and seventeen (Daley, 2006; Johnston & Mash, 2001; Ray, Croen, & Habel, 2009). Mothers of children with ADHD have been shown to experience higher levels of stress and more symptoms of depression and anxiety than mothers of children without ADHD (Befera & Barkley, 1985; Chronis et al., 2003; Fischer, 1990; Nigg & Hinshaw, 1998; Segenreich, Fortes, Coutinho, Pastura, & Mattos, 2009). This study examined children’s ADHD symptom severity, stress from daily hassles, optimism, maternal attributions about children’s behavior, and maternal well-being in a longitudinal design with 107 mothers. Children’s externalizing behaviors (but not ADHD symptoms) were related to mothers’ symptoms. Both mothers’ attributional style and daily parenting stress mediated the longitudinal relationship between children’s’ externalizing symptoms and mothers’ symptoms. Additionally, optimism added unique variance in explaining mothers’ symptoms, over and above that explained by attributional style and daily parenting stress. The results suggest that interventions that focus on increasing optimism and reducing negative maternal attributions and parenting stress may improve mothers’ well-being.