Year of Publication


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)

Document Type

Master's Thesis


Arts and Sciences



First Advisor

Dr. Richard Milich


Children with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) experience frequent and persisting peer rejection, yet current social skills training is ineffective. The current study focused on emotion dysregulation as a possible mediator between ADHD symptoms and poor peer outcomes with oppositional defiant disorder (ODD) symptoms as a moderator. Participants included 145 elementary-age children ranging from 8-10 years old. Parents and teachers rated children’s ADHD and ODD symptoms as well as their social skills. Parents also rated children on their emotion regulation abilities. Children then participated in a three-hour playgroup with unfamiliar peers in six structured and unstructured tasks. Research assistants provided global ratings of emotion regulation and peer rejection during each of the six tasks. At the end of the playgroup, children and staff completed sociometric questions about each child. Using multiple raters and methods, observed emotion regulation was found to mediate between increased symptoms of ADHD and worse peer relations as rated by the playgroup staff members. There were limited findings of significant moderation by ODD. Emotion dysregulation may be a valuable target for intervention in order to improve peer relations for children with ADHD.