Parents with Severe Childhood Trauma More Likely to Have Kids with Behavior Issues

Posted on July 13, 2018

Parents who faced severe trauma and stress in their own childhood are more likely to see behavioral health problems in their children, according to a new study. The childhood hardships included in the study were as follows: divorce or separation of parents; death of or estrangement from a parent; emotional, physical or sexual abuse; witnessing violence in the home; exposure to substance abuse in the household or parental mental illness.

The findings reveal that the children of parents who themselves had four or more adverse childhood experiences were at double the risk of having attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and were four times more likely to have mental health problems. In addition, a mother’s childhood experiences had a stronger adverse effect on a child’s behavioral health than the father’s experiences. Parents who lived through adverse childhood experiences were also more likely to report higher levels of aggravation as parents and to experience mental health problems, the researchers found.

For the study, the team analyzed data from a national survey showing information from four generations of American families. This included information from parents about whether they were abused, neglected or exposed to other family stressors or maltreatment while growing up, and information on their children’s behavior problems and medical diagnoses of attention deficit disorder. With this data, the researchers were able to find strong links between the parents’ adversity histories and their children’s behavioral health problems, while controlling for factors such as family poverty and education level.

This research adds to the growing evidence supporting standardized assessment of parents for adverse childhood experiences during their child’s pediatric health visits, and the next step would be to look at how resilience factors, such as the support of mentors or teachers, could counteract the harms of childhood traumas.

Category(s):Oppositional & Defiant Behavior in Children & Teens, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) / Trauma / Complex PTSD

Source material from Psych Central