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UBC Theses and Dissertations

The relationship of hyperkinesis and family stress : a clinical study McKee, Kelly Edward


The purpose of this study was to assess the relationship of hyper-kinesis and family stress. The relevant family stress and hyperkinesis literature is reviewed. Research suggests that families containing a hyperkinetic child experience stress due to the possible lack of coping resources. Using both standardized measures and non-structured clinical interviews and observations, the coping efficiency and coping resources of five families were studied. The variables examined included parent self-concept, child-rearing attitude, family adaptability and cohesion, marital communication and parent anxiety. It was hypothesized that parents of hyperkinetic children would perceive themselves as having low self-concept, more autocratic child-rearing attitudes, poor marital communication and high anxiety. They would perceive their families as enmeshed and highly structured, and as having a depletion of coping resources. In addition to these hypotheses, a number of secondary research questions were examined. Differences between mother and father scores, and the effects of SES and the sex of child, and the family rules, alliances and triangles, on family coping were explored. Evidence of hyperactivity in the extended family was also examined. The results of the study suggest that families with hyperkinetic children lack coping resources, especially in the area of internal strengths. The families tended to perceive themselves as being disconnected and structured, and as having poor communication patterns. Parents did perceive themselves as having average self-concept, low anxiety, more democratic child-rearing attitudes and as successfully managed family life. Although the aforementioned trends were evident in the sample population, the study had a number of limitations. The sample consisted of volunteers who were found to be abnormal specimens due to SES and their membership in parenting group for parents of hyperactive children. The instrument used to assess the level of stress in the family did not accurately measure this variable. Finally, the reliance on paper and pencil measures for the data was found to be a limitation. The results from these measures were consistently contradicted by the nonstandardized measures. Further research should be done to determine the generalizability of the results of this study. Areas of concentration should be on determining more specific areas of resource deficiency, causes of marital communication problems and the impact of stress on the family sub-systems.

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