What should concerned parents do?

If a child's negative behavior lasts for months and is adversely affecting her or his social relationships and school performance, then it's worth having your child evaluated by a psychologist or psychiatrist for ADHD and other mental disorders.

Parents of girls with ADHD should carefully monitor signs of disruptive behavior, anxiety and depression, Tung said. "Early management of ADHD and related symptoms will be critical in helping young girls function successfully at school and socially, and feel confident," she said.

"People tend to think of girls as having higher risk for depression and anxiety disorders, and boys as being more likely to exhibit conduct disorders, but we found that ADHD for girls substantially increases their risk for these conduct disorders," Tung said. "In many cases, the school can provide support, including an evaluation by a school psychologist."

Approximately five to seven percent of elementary school students have oppositional defiant disorder and approximately one to two percent of elementary school students have conduct disorder, Lee said. Fewer girls than boys have these disorders.

The good news, the psychologists said, is that there are effective treatments -- some involving pharmaceuticals, and others that involve seeing a therapist, as well as effective parenting strategies to manage the behavior.

"Kids with ADHD need structure and consistency, more than the average child; they need to know the rules and the rules need to be applied consistently," Lee said.

Lee and Tung recommend that parents provide positive reinforcement for good behavior; this does not have to be monetary.

"For some of these kids, getting negative attention may be their only way of getting attention," Tung said.

"Catch your child being good, and reward that," Lee said. Children will sometimes react negatively to rewards in the beginning, and parents at that point will often stop, but should continue, he added. "The child's behavior will often get worse before it gets better."

Children with ADHD are two to three times more likely than children without the disorder to develop serious substance abuse problems in adolescence and adulthood, Lee and colleagues reported in 2011.

To receive a diagnosis of ADHD by a child psychologist or psychiatrist, a child must have at least six of nine symptoms of either hyperactivity or inattention, the child's behavior must be causing problems in his or her life, and the symptoms must not be explainable by any medical condition or any other mental disorder.

In addition, the symptoms must have started before age 12, must be present in multiple settings -- at home and school, for example -- and must be adversely affecting functioning.

Many more children meet the criteria for ADHD than are being treated for it, and many children may benefit from treatment who are not receiving it, Lee said.

Science Daily/SOURCE :https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2016/10/161004150822.htm

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