Children’s Mental Health and Pandemic 2

June 4, 2021

A new poll shows parents think the pandemic is the worst thing to happen to their children, citing social isolation as the most unhealthy aspect of the pandemic, followed by remote learning and too much screen time.

A brand new poll by Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago shows that parents think the pandemic is the worst thing to happen to their children, and believe it will have a lasting effect on their children’s development, citing social isolation as the most unhealthy aspect of the pandemic, followed by remote learning and too much screen time.

Researchers at “Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago” write: “Recently, we have polled 1,000 parents across the US, focusing our inquiry on how parents contextualize the impact of the pandemic on their children’s mental health, what choices they regret making, and what they’ve done to constructively address challenges.”

“Between March 19 – April 2, 2021, we polled 1,000 Americans with at least one child living at home between the ages of 2 – 24. Respondents were 54 percent female, 46 percent male, and ranged in age from 21 to 64, with an average age of 37. For parents of multiple children, we asked them to answer questions in consideration of the single child whose mental health they are most concerned about.”

“We began by asking parents to describe their general feelings about the pandemic’s effects on mental health. Not surprisingly, a majority of parents are distressed by the situation. Seventy-one percent believe the pandemic has taken a toll on their child’s mental health, 69 percent say the pandemic is the worst thing to happen to their child, and 67 percent wish they’d been more vigilant about their child’s mental health from the beginning.”

Parents cited social isolation as the most unhealthy aspect of the pandemic, followed by remote learning and too much screen time. … Many parents believe they’re facing a problem that will have long-term consequences. Sixty-four percent believe the pandemic will have a lasting effect on their child’s development, with most (71 percent) citing emotional development as their top concern.”

Researchers, yet, explain there are “some positive outcomes to celebrate, with respect to parenting. Of the parents we polled, 87 percent said they are spending more quality time with their children and 78 percent said they are showing more affection to their children than before the pandemic.”

“Parents most frequently cited “talking and comforting” as the primary way they work to bolster their child’s mental health. Additionally, 56 percent helped their child pursue hobbies and fun activities, 42 percent encouraged better sleep, (as well as: 40 percent more physical activity, and 33 percent improving diet). One particularly encouraging development: 37 percent of parents said they encouraged some practice of mindfulness and relaxation as a coping tactic, and 55 percent say their child has at some point tried mindfulness techniques to manage stress, irrespective of the pandemic.”

“From the perspective of stressors, this is good news,” said Colleen Cicchetti, PhD, Executive Director, “Center for Childhood Resilience” and Clinical Psychologist. “Children being impacted by the more serious effects of the virus, including loss of loved ones and the anxiety of instability of parental income, food insecurity and homelessness are more toxic stressors. … The factors that most parents from this sample identified represent factors that, while significant, are also beginning to shift as the covid-19 restrictions are lifted.”

“From the perspective of mental health professionals,” she declared, “parents being better attuned to their child’s social and emotional needs is another potential silver lining to this pandemic. While parents may be second guessing some of the decisions that they made during this uncertain time, it is clear from this sample that many parents have been actively trying to adjust routines as needed to manage the disruptions to family, school and social norms.”

Poll Results
Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago
Center for Childhood Resilience (CCR)