Have maternal pre-pandemic stress levels influenced children’s mental health during the COVID-19 pandemic?

Have maternal pre-pandemic stress levels influenced children’s mental health during the COVID-19 pandemic?

The ongoing coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic has had a tremendous impact on many spheres of life across the globe, from physical and mental health to social and economic wellbeing. Preventive strategies aimed at curbing viral transmission levels, such as isolation and social distancing, have posed several challenges to affected families.

Quarantine restrictions have a proven influence on the social and emotional development of children and adolescents. Everyday restrictions such as school closures, quarantine, and the cancellation of outdoor activities have negatively affected many families. Moreover, external support from family members or social institutions has been limited, which has exacerbated the circumstances of many already stressed families. Study: Mothers’ daily perceived stress influences their children’s mental health during SARS-CoV-2-pandemic—an online survey.

A stable and secure family environment with mentally healthy parents is a strong protective factor for children. Ongoing research focusing on pandemic-related effects on children 3 and 6 years of age shows that compared to older children, younger ones are significantly more likely to experience symptoms of stress in their social and emotional development. Role of maternal daily perceived stress on the mental health of children during the pandemic

A recent study, published in Child and Adolescent Psychiatry and Mental Health , assessed the role of maternal daily perceived stress on the mental health of children during the pandemic. They conducted an online survey to assess children’s mental health since the beginning of the pandemic. Data from a longitudinal survey was used to assess maternal perceived everyday stress. The survey included elements of the Childhood Trauma Questionnaire, the Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire, and the Perceived Stress Scale. They also collected socio-demographic data of the families and applied Tobit models for estimation due to limited dependent variables.

They found that maternal perceived everyday stress had a significant impact on children’s emotional issues during the pandemic. The results provided empirical evidence for increased hyperactivity levels in children dependent on the mother’s perceived stress before the pandemic started. There was no significant relationship between the mother’s perceived everyday stress and behavioral problems of children. Lack of pre-pandemic protective factors and its influence on mental health during the pandemic

Existing studies on mental stress in parents and children mainly focus on the link between the pandemic and stress levels of parents and children. In contrast, this study considered longitudinally recorded maternal daily perceived stress. Maternal perceived stress was measured across the first years of their children’s life (starting from birth) and was not limited to stress caused by the pandemic.

There is a lack of literature estimating the influence of a combined measure of both the effects of pre-pandemic stressors and pandemic-related distress on health outcomes,” writes the team.

Continue reading the rest at www.news-medical.net

How Technology Can Facilitate Early-Stage Education

How Technology Can Facilitate Early-Stage Education

We have long been aware that the early development of children’s social, emotional, and cognitive abilities is key for lifelong learning and wellbeing . However, lively debate continues regarding how to make use of technology when teaching children ten and younger.

Many educators and parents view early-stage education academically and, therefore, rigidly. For example, preschools often stuff curricula and day-to-day education with academic instructions that hone in sharply on a particular skill, such as reading, calculating, or solving textbook problems.

Rather than taking a skills-only approach with young learners, educators can adopt a teaching style that develops their natural willingness and curiosity to learn and study instead by integrating technology to facilitate learning experiences from a young age.

Let’s take a closer look at what is important in early-stage education and the tools that can help children develop a lifelong curiosity to learn.

Why the Right Early-Stage Education Is so Important

Young students are open to different learning experiences, and they also pick up new things more easily. As the brain slowly matures, so do the synapses , making connections and building habits that solidify with experience and repetition. Further, young children are less biased . This means they are more open to new information and alternative reasoning.

During this eight year period, children develop the base for their future development. Children also develop the curiosity to learn and the right habits and practices to study. Once children have these foundations to build on, it is easier for them to acquire skills of all kinds in the future.

Giving technological tools to children from a young age is a controversial issue . While many people are in favor of technology, others doubt its value with young children. However, using technology in a reasonable way can bring immense benefits to children. For example, if a school is teaching students about insects, visiting a botanical garden is a very practical and memorable experience. However, educators can’t go to a zoo or other off-campus locations every time they want to deliver a new learning experience. But with the help of technological tools such as simulations, explanatory videos, and other digital resources, teachers can replicate real-life experiences every day and on a large scale.

Using Technology in Pre- and Elementary School Classrooms

During early education, technology can facilitate different learning experiences, strengthen children’s curiosity, and build their ability to study self-sufficiently.

When school content is theoretical and abstract, educators can give children access to video materials, colorful interactive graphics, and educational apps. While audio-visual material grabs children’s attention and makes complex concepts easier to understand, using apps or web search enables children to follow their individual path of learning.

In preschool children should be able to explore, try, and experience things. Educators should focus on comprehensive learning experiences that strengthen children’s curiosity. For example, when students have their first contact with numbers, letters, and stories, teachers can use technology to practice content while they are playing.

Continue reading the rest at news.elearninginside.com

6 Psychologically Damaging Things Parents Say To Their Kids Without Realizing It

6 Psychologically Damaging Things Parents Say To Their Kids Without Realizing It

Parents sometimes say things to their children that are harmful — without realizing it. Parents don’t set out to say hurtful or harmful things to their children, but it happens. You’re tired, they’re pushing your buttons, and you’re frustrated after asking them for the 600th time to clear their plates or get out the door on time. You could also be inadvertently repeating things you heard in your own childhood that your parents (and maybe even you) didn’t realize took an emotional toll.

We parents are trying our best, but sometimes — a lot of times — we fall short. That’s why it can be helpful to know some of the potentially damaging phrases parents often resort to without realizing their impact. It’s not about beating ourselves up. It’s about doing better by being a bit more conscious of our language.

So HuffPost Parents spoke with several experts who shared some harmful phrases you should try to erase from your vocabulary — and what to say instead.

1. “It’s not a big deal.”

Kids often cry or melt down over stuff that seems really silly. (Recall the delightful “ reasons my kid is crying ” meme that had a real moment a few years back.) But while kids’ crying and whining can definitely get under their parents’ skin — particularly when it’s over something you think they should be able to cope with — it’s harmful to diminish their very real feelings by basically telling them to buck up.

“These little problems — and the emotions that come with them — are actually huge to our kids,” said Amy McCready, a parenting educator, the founder of Positive Parenting Solutions and the author of “If I Have to Tell You One More Time.” “When we discount their emotional responses to very real challenges, we tell them, ‘How you feel doesn’t matter,’ or ‘It’s silly to be afraid or disappointed.’”

Instead, try this:

Take a moment and try to understand things from their perspective. McCready recommended saying something like: “You seem really scared or frustrated or disappointed right now. Should we talk about it and figure out what to do?” Ultimately, you’re helping them label their emotions (an important part of developing emotional intelligence ) and making it clear that you’re there for them.

2. “You never” or “You always do XYZ.”

Children have their patterns, but saying your kid “always” or “never” does something simply isn’t true. (That’s why marriage counselors advise clients to avoid the word “never” with their partners altogether.)

Using broad statements is a red flag that you’ve stopped being curious about what’s happening in this particular moment with your child, according to Robbin McManne, founder of Parenting for Connection.

“It misses opportunity for you to teach them what they should and what they can do next time,” McManne said.

Instead, try this:

Remind yourself to be curious about why your child is engaging in a particular behavior at a particular time. It really helps to connect by getting physically close to your child in that moment, McManne said, so that you’re not shouting at them from across the house, but you’re right there with them to make sure they’re not distracted by something else.

Continue reading the rest at www.huffpost.com

Kids are feeling anxiety about a ‘return to normal’

Recently, I scheduled a playdate for my 6-year-old with a good friend she hadn’t seen in months because of the pandemic. She was so excited — until, suddenly, she wasn’t. As the day approached, my daughter grew more and more irritable. The day before, she demanded that we bake cookies and make signs for her friend. When I told her we couldn’t, she exploded in an angry meltdown.

After she calmed down, I sat down with her to try to figure out what was going on. She tearfully admitted that she was terrified: She worried that her friend wouldn’t like her anymore, which is why she was trying engineer the perfect playdate — to ensure that she could win her friend back after months of being out of touch.

If you, as a parent, have been experiencing anxiety about the “return to normal,” your kids are likely to be harboring similar feelings, perhaps even to a greater degree. “We’ve gone from pause to fast-forward,” says Rebecca Schrag Hershberg, a clinical psychologist who specializes in early-childhood social emotional development and mental health. “It’s just really overstimulating. For all of us, and certainly kids.”

On the one hand, these struggles can seem counterintuitive. Isn’t this exactly what we’ve been waiting for — for things to get back to the way they were? For our kids to once again enjoy birthday parties, camp and visits with extended family? Absolutely — but we also need to remember that big transitions can be hard for children. Going from hardly seeing anyone and not doing anything, to seeing everyone and doing everything, can be confusing and overwhelming.

It’s been more than a year since we led “normal” lives, which is a very, very long time for kids — especially toddlers and preschoolers. They may not remember what things were like before, so the return to normal may actually feel like a departure from normal — the changes may feel jarring instead of reassuring. Compared with who they were before the pandemic, little children right now “are facing the world as completely different people,” Hershberg says.

Some may also be struggling because they don’t understand why the activities they were told were unsafe during the pandemic are suddenly safe again, so it can be helpful to explain why. You can tell them, for instance, that there are scientists and doctors in charge who conduct research to figure out what’s safe, and that you listen to them and do what they advise. The very idea that there are people in charge of these big issues can be reassuring for kids, Hershberg says, and can help them understand that you have good reasons for changing your behavior.

Children are also still processing the challenges […]

Continue reading the rest at www.washingtonpost.com

Sport and the socio-emotional development of children

Sport and the socio-emotional development of children

Copyrights: Pro Sport Development A new research study by Pro Sport Development analyzes the impact of their Community Sports Program on the socio-emotional development of children.

Pro Sport Development (PSD) , in collaboration with Participatory Research in Asia (PRIA) initiated an in-depth evaluation to better understand the impact of its Community Sports Program (CSP) on the socio-emotional development of children in Bhubaneswar, Odisha.

The overall intended impact of the CSP is to help children from marginalized backgrounds improve their socio-emotional health and well-being, and empower them to become confident and competent leaders within their own communities.

Over the past few years, the changes created by the program have been documented through articles, videos and case studies focusing on individual participants’ stories of change. In addition, analysis using secondary data pertaining to the CSP participants has been conducted. However, up until 2019, only basic quantitative data along with limited qualitative assessments were utilized to evaluate the impact of PSD’s sport for development initiative in Bhubaneswar.

Methodology

For the evaluation of the CSP in 2020-21, a mixed-methods approach was utilized. An exploratory design procedure was used, wherein the quantitative data was collected first, followed by the collection of qualitative data.

Within the quantitative data, baseline and end-line surveys were used with both target and control groups to analyze the changes in their socio-emotional wellbeing. For qualitative data, interviews with select participants, along with their families and PSD trainers, were conducted.

Quantitative data

A total of 267 children from two schools participated in the pre and post intervention surveys conducted for this evaluation. The target group (n=175) consisted of children registered for the CSP at the time of the baseline data collection, and were part of the online intervention implemented through the year. The control group (n=92) comprised of those children from the same schools who did not and have never previously participated in the CSP.

However, as seen in the data analysis of the surveys, the average responses and index scores of a few indicators of both the target respondents and control group have shown a positive change, whereas others have shown a negative change over the evaluation period. Interestingly, the change witnessed in the baseline and endline data for the average responses and index scores for all indicators for both the target respondents and control group follow very similar patterns.

Qualitative data

Qualitative data was also collected as part of the evaluation, in the form of short interviews with participants, their families, and the PSD trainers, to understand more deeply how the CSP impacted participants during this time period. This data allowed PSD to understand the personal impact that the program has had on participants. In total, six participants and their families were interviewed […]

Continue reading the rest at www.sportanddev.org

How to encourage a child’s biophilia

How to encourage a child’s biophilia

The sight of children lugging large heavy bags while sprinting to school reveals how their schedules are dictated by aptitudes considered important by the modern world: tight class schedules, sports and exercise, homework, and chores. But not the natural world.

These school activities overlook the human body’s need for natural surroundings and undermine the importance of time spent outdoors. World Environment Day on 5 June is a time to consider teaching our children the importance of creating and protecting green spaces, to support their learning abilities and emotional manageability. It is never too early to start.

The human brain is at its most fertile as a child, and is capable of adapting and absorbing knowledge at an exceptional pace. It is also true that this stage of development is the most defining time for growing children.

The quality of a child’s experience (positive or negative) helps shape how their brains develop. Just as negative experiences such as being exposed to traumatic life events define a child’s perspective and personality, positive experiences like spending quality time outdoors can help boost brain development. The same study also demonstrates the positive benefits of spending time in nature for children with ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder). Even a simple walk in nature spurs concentration levels in children. Besides playing a key role in cognitive development, exposure to nature also has wide-ranging emotional, physical, and physiological benefits for children which is the reason outdoor learning education programs have started gaining popularity in recent years.

Physical activity and unstructured play are also important factors contributing to a child’s growth and development. While one fulfils the body’s physical needs, unstructured play triggers the creative side of the brain.

‘Forest Floors’, a Scandinavian concept, spurs early childhood development by recreating small patches of ‘forest’ in the playground. Just a little grass and some mud expose children to good microbes. If a small patch of transplanted forest floor can have this impact, imagine what consistent exposure to our natural surroundings could do.

There is a strong connection between nature and the overall growth process of children, which is why incorporating environmental education and psychology into the national curriculum as a primary subject has a compelling justification. While there may be a growing consensus among parents that children can gain knowledge from watching nature documentaries and working on conservation through the classroom, these second-hand adventures will never hold the same sensory and emotional impact as childhood discoveries beneath a moss-covered brick, or a pile of dried leaves.

According to Wilson’s (1984) well-regarded ‘ biophilia hypothesis ,’ humans are born with an innate affinity for nature. It asserts that human dependence on nature is not limited to material and physical sustenance but […]

Continue reading the rest at www.nepalitimes.com