An exploratory study investigating the experiences of parents coping with children who are being treated for attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)
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Aim: To explore parents’ experiences when caring for a child with Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). The coping mechanisms employed by the parents in such a situation were also investigated. Objectives: To gain an understanding of the parents’ experiences when their child has ADHD. The factors affecting these experiences include dealing with their child’s behaviours, receiving an ADHD diagnosis, deciding on treatment and coping resources. Research Design: Through a qualitative, phenomenological approach, this study is characterized by an interpretative style with the aim of facilitating an in-depth exploration of the participants’ experiences. Subjects: A non-probability, purposive sample was used. The sample consisted of 12 parents. The only requirements for the sample were: 1. The participant must be the primary caretaker of a child who has been diagnosed with ADHD and is being treated for ADHD. 2. The participant’s child must be 18 years old or younger. Data Collection: Semi-structured, in-depth interviews were used as an instrument for collecting the required data and were devised in order to appropriately address the objectives of this study. Data Analysis: The transcripts were analyzed thematically using Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis (IPA) in order to identify relevant and common parental experiences. Lazarus and Folkman’s Transactional Theory of Stress (TTS) and Coping was utilized as a conceptual framework to help make sense of the emergent themes. Results: Participants in the present study displayed increased levels of stress and frustration when caring for a child with ADHD. The child’s difficult behaviours frequently induced a sense of incompetence in the parents and a desire to use physical punishment on the child. The participants employed various methods of coping in order to adapt to their child’s disorder. Such efforts included modifying daily routines and utilizing social support. Most of these coping efforts helped to diminish stress and anxiety and improved parent-child relationships.