Self-Regulation Issues In Children And Adolescents With ADHD, ODD, And OCD Research Paper

Length: 20 pages Sources: 20 Subject: Children Type: Research Paper Paper: #39399907 Related Topics: Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, Attention Span, Self Reflection, Behavioral Disorder
Excerpt from Research Paper :

Self-Regulation Issues in Children and Adolescence with ADHD, ODD, and OCD

Self-regulation in children and adolescence who suffer from ADHD, ODD, and OCD (Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, and Oppositional Defiant Disorder) is often evident due to several things. A lot of the issues in relation to self-regulation stem from additional anxiety the child/teen may feel from the difficulties experienced from these kinds of mental disorders. OCD is known to cause anxiety and isolationist behaviors leading to decreased emotional self-regulation. ADHD at times can cause hyperfocus, making it difficult for the child/teen to switch tasks therefore limiting their ability to handle their emotions and activities that assist in regulating themselves. ODD, connected to ADHD, is a disorder that has the child react angrily and spitefully to people in otherwise normally responsive situations. The extreme feelings of children or adolescence who manifest ODD make it hard for them to respond to things in a rational and balanced way.

Children who experience OCD are often stuck with repeating set and defined patterns to rid themselves of sad or disturbing thoughts. Self-regulation among children who suffer from this disorder is very difficult to attain because of the repetitions and obsessions that preoccupy their minds and in some more severe cases, their lives. Children experiencing OCD often report increased sensitivity to external events, especially when they are away from their comfort zones and unable to perform their rituals. Additionally, they lack objective reasoning which can also deter or limit self-regulation by enabling the child to focus on things that will heighten or continue bad or negative thoughts and/or behavior. Many theories exist on why behavioral disorders exists, but few thoroughly explain or connect actions and behaviors to the disorders, especially in young children who are often not diagnosed until older in age.

II. Social Theory & Analysis

Hyperfocus exhibited by children with ADHD, is an intense form of mental concentration (Wong & Butler, 2012, p. 141). Some topics may elicit daydreaming in some children who engage in hyperfocus. The heightened concentration limits what is otherwise easy to achieve in children without any signs of mental disorder such as multi-tasking, paying attention, and socialization. Socialization, an aspect of self-regulation elicits the child to engage in several activities. These activities may include observing, talking, responding, and thinking. When engaged in hyperfocus, the child will only be able to pay attention to one thing and can easily get side-tracked. Hyperfocus is one theory on why self-regulation appears to be a difficult activity for children who exhibit ADHD tendencies.

Self-regulation is a broad label for several activities belonging in different areas, all pertaining to controlling one's emotions, thoughts, actions, and responses. Emotional self-regulation (Campbell, 1990, p. 118). In sociology and psychology, self-control is representative of self-regulation. In educational psychology, self-regulated learning makes up self-regulation. Self-regulation theory (SRT), a system of conscious personal health management can apply to how a child regulates themselves in relation to hygiene and nutrition. Self-policing, a form of self-regulation, applies to how a child may respond to external stimuli brought on by society, authoritative, and/or peer-to-peer, interactions.

Self-control is the ability for one to control their emotions, behavior, and desires for the possible attainment of a reward or avoidance of a punishment (Wong & Butler, 2012, p. 141). In psychology it is often referred to as self-regulation. Children who suffer from OCD, ADHD, and ODD often lack self-control. OCD afflicted children become obsessed with rituals and therefore cannot stop even if there is the added possibility of an imminent reward or punishment. They are controlled by their behaviors, not the other way around. The mechanism that drives them to perform behaviors that limit self-control promote belief in greater punishment if they are not engaging in these obsessive-compulsive tendencies.

Children with ADHD cannot focus on the punishment and reward aspect of self-control and only view what they regard as interesting at the moment as the reward. They cannot control in what they focus on and if they do focus on something, they are limited in focusing on something else. This lack of self-control promotes the theory that self-regulation in ADHD children is a common issue.

ODD in children makes self-control difficult in that it keeps them from handling emotional situations in a typical and natural


Anger and aggression are exacerbated in children with ODD so they will act harsher and are more sensitive than children who do not have ODD. Lack of effective reasoning, not possessing the ability to regulate their emotions when confronted with social situations, is a great indicator of decreased self-control, therefore, self-regulation. Aversive stimulation may increase desire for self-control in children with ODD, ADHD, and OCD, but further research is needed. Self-regulation as seen through self-regulated learning (Zelazo, 2013, p. 181-190).

Self-regulated learning (SRL) is learning guided by metacognition, strategic action, and motivation to learn. Metacognition is self-reflection or thinking about one's thinking. Strategic action consists of activities that include monitoring, planning, and self-evaluation of personal progress when compared to a known standard. Self-regulated learning involves taking the process of learning and applying it to one's self through one's own actions (Scott, 2008, p. 63).

Self-regulated learning puts emphasis on autonomy and control through the individual's actions and thought processes. The direct, monitor, and regulate themselves towards goals and objectives of gaining knowledge, expanding expertise, and improvement. Moreover, self-regulated learners are aware of both their academic strengths and weaknesses. They have an internal database of methods and approaches they appropriately apply to handle daily challenges of academic tasks.

Self-regulated learning is virtually non-existent in ADHD children. They are often far too distracted to apply or develop strategies to learn. When they try to apply what they've learned to something, they at times get stuck or confused, unable to interconnect the several areas of information required to absorb, evaluate, and apply acquired knowledge. The same is for children with ODD.

ODD keeps children focused on emotional relief and satisfaction as they become agitated by someone or something fairly easily. Another aspect of this disorder that keeps children who suffer from it unable to perform self-regulated learning is the lack of responsibility they take for their actions. Self-regulated learning involves constant self-evaluation and reflection. If children with ODD cannot self-evaluate and reflect on past instances and actions, they cannot learn from them assess what they have to do to improve.

Children with OCD are not as unable to handle self-regulated learning. They can reflect and self-evaluate, but do so in a rigid and unyielding thought process. Children with OCD narrow what they can do and think in relation to what they experience or observe. In this way they are unable to truly apply self-regulated learning successfully because they cannot keep an open mind to incoming information. They can form strategies to cope with learning, etc., but they cannot execute in a broad sense and end up stuck in their compulsions.

Emotional self-regulation or regulation of emotion is the ability to respond to the continual demands of experience with the assortment of emotions in a fashion that is socially acceptable and adequately adaptable to allow unplanned reactions as well as the ability to prolong reactions as necessary. Furthermore the definition can include intrinsic and extrinsic processes culpable for evaluating, monitoring, and modification of emotional responses (Zelazo, 2013, p. 181-190). Emotion self-regulation is a part of a much wider set of emotion-regulation processes, which includes the regulation of one's own emotions as well as others.

Emotional regulation is an intricate process consisting of initiation, inhibition, or modulation of one's behavior or state of mind in any given circumstance. Because of its complexity, children who suffer from ADHD, for instance, often times cannot handle the various actions needed to consider their feelings and someone else's; let alone possess the ability to regulate them. Often time's children with ADHD cannot see past a situation and therefore cannot become aware of what they are doing, let alone feeling in the present time. Even if they are paying attention to what is around them, they may easily become distracted.

OCD has the same dilemma in that it takes up most of the time in a child's conscious life. Instead of thinking of how to respond to an emotional situation or the feelings of someone else, they are too caught up in how they feel with not performing their rituals. The intense suspense, anxiety, and then release and relief, followed by a growing urge, preoccupies the child's life in such a way he/she cannot accept other experiences. Unlike ADHD, where they get distracted by anything and everything, in OCD, the obsession becomes the only distraction.

ODD narrows the feelings/emotions children exhibit, therefore decreasing their capacity to emotionally self-regulate. With this disorder they proceed to feel mostly negative emotions of hate, anger, and spite, and therefore act from this basis, unable to understand other feelings needed to learn emotional regulation such as compassion, forgiveness, and temperance. Children who demonstrate behavior patterns associated with ODD cannot differentiate their feelings…

Sources Used in Documents:


Barkley, R.A. (2013). Oppositional Defiant Disorder: The Four Factor Model for Assessment and Management - by Russell A. Barkley, Ph.D. Retrieved from

Blum, K., Chen, A.L., & Oscar-Berman, M. (2008). Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and reward deficiency syndrome. Neuropsychiatric Disease and Treatment, 4(5), 893-918. Retrieved from

Campbell, S.B. (1990). Behavior problems in preschool children: Clinical and developmental issues. New York: Guilford Press.

Cheng, M., & Boggett-Carsjens, J. (2005). Consider Sensory Processing Disorders in the Explosive Child: Case Report and Review. Canadian Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, 14(2), 44-48.

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