Recent, Current, and Future Research Projects

Emotion Regulation in Young Children with ADHD

My students and I are collaborating with Dr. Jennifer McDermott's lab to investigate emotion processing in 4 to 7 year old children with ADHD symptoms. We are using Event Related Potentials (ERP) to examine how young children's brain's respond to different emotion contexts. With support from the Center for Research on Families, Dr. McDermott and I are currently developing a grant proposal to examine how emotion regulation develops differently in preschoolers with and without ADHD, using behavioral and neurocognitive methods.

Parent Training for Families with Hyperactive Preschoolers

My work adds to a growing literature that suggests that ADHD often begins during the preschool years. Although some children showing early signs of hyperactivity do outgrow early problems, the majority do not. There is a large literature suggesting that parent training is effective in preventing and treating both early and later conduct problems, but only a handful of studies have tested such programs for preschool children with ADHD. While it is unclear whether early parent training can decrease ADHD symptoms specifically, teaching parents effective ways of managing their children's behavior is likely to decrease children's functional impairment and may prevent the development of co-occurring emotional and behavior problems which are so common among children with ADHD. My students, colleagues, and I have developed a parenting program designed specifically for parents of hyperactive preschoolers. While it shares many features common to other parent training programs, the curriculum is designed to address issues unique to this stage of development and to parenting children with hyperactivity. Furthermore, because emotion regulation is a major developmental task of the preschool years and because children with ADHD are often challenged in this area, we have developed a component to the training that directly helps parents facilitate hyperactive children's emotion regulation. We have recently evaluated the effectiveness of the program which has been published in Behavior Therapy.

A Prospective Study of the Development of ADHD and ODD (Early Behavior Development Project) (2000-2006)

This study, funded by the National Institute of Health, focused on understanding the early development of attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and oppositional defiant disorder (ODD). Three-year-old children were screened through local pediatrician offices, state birth records, and community agencies to identify children who show elevated levels of hyperactivity and/or aggression. These children and a group of non-problem children took part in extensive child and family assessments once a year for four years. This project seeks to understand factors that predict which children outgrow their problems and which children continue to display clinically significant behavior problems.

We recruited 199 children with behavior problems and 59 children who did not show behavioral difficulties at age 3. In March, 2007, we completed all four yearly assessments. We recruited an ethnically and socioeconomically diverse set of families for this study. The sample is ethnically diverse; 55% were European American, 18% Latino (predominately Puerto Rican), 12% African American/Black, and 15% were multi-ethnic.

We have published a number of papers based on this data set and are continuing to preparing manuscripts based on this rich dataset.

Topics of Current/Recent Graduate Student Theses and Dissertations:

  • Emotion regulation in hyperactive preschoolers
  • Parent Psychopathology and Child Functioning
  • Emotion socialization and culture
  • Fathering
  • Parenting of Latino immigrants
  • Depression in parenting
  • Interplay between family stressors, parenting, and oppositional defiant disorder
  • Relation between behavior problems and cognitive functioning