Childhood Attention Problems and the Development of Comorbid Symptoms at the Transition to High School: The Mediating Role of Parent and Peer Relationships

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Children with Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) are at increased risk for the development of depression and delinquent behavior. Children and adolescents with ADHD also experience difficulty creating/maintaining high quality friendships and parent-child relationships, and these difficulties may contribute to the development of co-morbid internalizing and externalizing symptoms in adolescence. However, there is limited research examining whether high quality friendships and parent-child relationships mediate the relation between ADHD and the emergence of these co-morbid symptoms at the transition to high school. This study examines the mediating role of relationship quality in the association between ADHD and depressive symptoms/delinquent behaviors at this developmentally significant transition point. Results revealed significant indirect effects of grade 6 attention problems on grade 9 depressive symptoms through friendship quality and quality of the mother-child relationship in grade 8. Interventions targeting parent and peer relationships may be valuable for youth with ADHD to promote successful transitions to high school.