Building Resilience in Children During the Pandemic:
The Role of Positive Parenting
Par : Elena Gallitto
The current pandemic has caused dramatic changes in family dynamics exacerbating stress for both children and their caregivers. The strict stay-at-home measures implemented to safeguard public health and reduce the spread of the virus, have disrupted people’s lives restricting freedom of movement and aggravating social isolation particularly for vulnerable individuals (Usher et al., 2020). Moreover, with the sudden school closures, children are spending increasing time indoors, mostly in front of a screen, with no opportunity for face-to-face social interactions with peers. This situation has added an extra challenge to caregivers, who in addition to working from home, are struggling to navigate the children’s remote learning environment forced upon them due to the suspended educational services. In some cases, job losses and financial insecurities have added strains to an already unfortunate situation, thereby contributing to increasing inquietude and anxiety (Fontanesi et al., 2020).
The accumulating toxic stress caused by the pandemic is a risk factor for the insurgence of mental health issues among children and youth (Whittle, Bray, Lin, Schwartz, 2020). Caregivers are also not immune to the effects of such stress. According to a recent mixed-method study conducted with a sample of 656 Canadian caregivers interviewed immediately after the first lockdown in April 2020, among several pandemic risk factors (e.g., unmet childcare needs, relationship difficulties and the number of children), caregivers’ depression was identified as the most significant predictor of lower parenting quality. Moreover, qualitative interviews with the same sample of caregivers indicated that some aspects of their daily living during the pandemic contributed to exacerbating their precarious condition including managing psychological distress, limited social support, and increased self-doubt in their parenting abilities (Roos et al., 2020).
The presence of a positive rearing environment and the establishment of positive relationships within family (and their community at large) constitute a buffer against chronic stress and, especially in these unprecedented times, this has been identified as “a magical ingredient” in promoting resilience among children and youth (Dvorsky, Breaux, & Becker, 2020). In this light, it is essential to promote strategies that can help strengthen such relationships so that children and youth are provided with the physical and emotional security necessary to ensure their healthy growth.
Parenting is a multifaceted task and responsibility and, more than ever, caregivers need adequate support to overcome challenges imposed by the incumbent pandemic. It is extremely cumbersome for caregivers performing daily parenting tasks in times of stress to do so without adequate support from institutions. In light of such growing concerns, the government should encourage initiatives to support families by promoting programs and services (whether in a virtual form or in-person) to help caregivers in their parenting practices. Children have the right to a positive family environment that is prosperous and offers them opportunities to develop their potential. With that in mind, we all have to work together in partnership and take action in the children’s best interest.
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Roos, L. E., Salisbury, M., Penner-Goeke, L., Cameron, E. E., Protudjer, J. L., Giuliano, R., ... & Reynolds, K. (2020). Supporting families to protect child health: Parenting quality and household needs during the COVID-19 pandemic. Retrieved from: https://psyarxiv.com/u5xzw/.
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