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COVID-19 Impact, Parental Stress, and Child Problem Behavior: a Mediation Model

Olivia P. Cutshaw and Dr. Kimberly L. Day, Department of Psychology, University of West Florida, 11000 University Pkwy, Pensacola, FL 32514

The COVID-19 pandemic has instigated many stressors in the lives of parents through its impact on families’ economic and health-related concerns. Repeatedly, increased parental stress has been linked to child problem behaviors, specifically children’s externalizing (aggression, rule-breaking) and internalizing (anxiety/depression, somatic complaints, social withdrawal) behaviors (Cherry et al., 2019; Neece et al., 2012). In the context of previous world threats, specifically natural disasters and terrorist attacks, stress- or anxiety-induced parental behavior has been associated with increased child internalizing behavior (Comer, 2008, 2010). Browne (2020) proposes a theoretical model in which social disruption from the COVID-19 pandemic increases parental distress, which alters inter-familial factors and, in turn, leaves children at risk for poorer developmental outcomes due to their dependence on the well-being of the family.

         The present study investigates associations between COVID-19 impact, parental stress, and children’s problem behaviors. We hypothesize a mediation model in which higher levels of perceived Coronavirus threat are associated with higher levels of parental stress, which, in turn, are associated with higher levels of child problem behavior. This study has received IRB approval and data collection is ongoing; data collection will be completed by 2/12/2021 to ensure the poster is completed in time for NCUR in April. Participants are mothers reporting on their 3- to 5-year-old children via a Qualtrics survey. COVID-19 impact is measured by the Coronavirus Perceived Threat, Impacts, and Experiences Questionnaire (Conway et al., 2020). Parental stress is measured using the Parenting Stress Index-4 (Abidin, 1995). Mothers report on their children’s problem behaviors with the Child Behavioral Checklist (Achenbach & Rescorla, 2001).  The mediation model will be statistically analyzed using linear regression in SPSS.  If the mediation model is found to be significant, it would highlight the importance of stress-reducing interventions for parents during these difficult times.




Additional Abstract Information

Presenter: Olivia Cutshaw

Institution: University of West Florida

Type: Poster

Subject: Psychology

Status: Approved


Time and Location

Session: Poster 10
Date/Time: Wed 1:30pm-2:30pm
Session Number: 6538