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Keywords:

  • adolescence;
  • birth order;
  • parent–child relations;
  • parenting

Adolescents' hyperactivity, impulsivity, and attention problems (HIA) have been shown to make parents feel powerless. In this study, the authors examined whether these feelings were dependent on parents' experiences with their older children. Two models that offer different predictions of how parents make use of their earlier experiences when raising their later-born children were explored: the learning-from-experience model and the spillover model. The authors used reports from 372 parents with 1 child (Mage = 11.92) and 198 parents with 2 children (Mage = 11.89 and 14.35) from a small town in a European country. The results did not support a learning-from-experience process. Instead, consistent with a spillover process, parents felt particularly powerless about their younger children with HIA if they also felt powerless about their older children. This study suggests that parents' experiences of raising their older children are important for their reactions to HIA in their younger children