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.

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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

The week's best parenting advice: June 22, 2021

Road trip tips, prepping for camp, and more — The week’s best parenting advice

Planning a family road trip this summer? Join the club. One survey from Bridgestone Americas suggests that more than half of Americans plan to drive to their vacation spots this summer, The New York Times reports . Roads could be busy, delays could be frequent, and kids will absolutely be whiny. Julia Marcum, of the Chris Loves Julia blog, shares her tips for road trips with kiddos. Snacks are key, but save yourself from having to be the snack vendor by putting the food in the trunk. “When you make a stop, you let the kids ‘shop’ the snacks that they want to tide them over until the next stop,” Marcum says. “I love that this gives them ownership over their choices and something to look forward to. Plus then we’re not having to deal with ‘can I have more fruit snacks’ every 5 minutes.”

If your kid is headed to summer camp soon, start prepping them now for the emotions that might arise. The transition from home to camp, or school to camp, can come with lots of anxieties. Clinical psychologist Rebecca Kennedy of Good Inside recommends what she calls “Emotional Vaccination” — discussing tricky feelings in advance so they’re more manageable later. Here’s what this might sound like, as imagined by Kennedy: You’ve been with the same group of kids at school and now you’re about to be with a totally different group of kids. You’ve been with the same teacher now there’s gonna be a new counselor. What’s that going to be like? That might feel a little tricky, I know new things feel tricky for me at first. “Now when camp comes and things might feel a little tricky or a little new in that way, your child has already wired those feelings next to your support and validation,” Kennedy says. “Those are key elements in regulation.”

“All babies cry,” says Meghan Moravcik Walbert at Lifehacker. “But some babies cry a lot.” A “colicky” baby cries for more than three hours a day, more than three days a week. Dealing with this kind of stress can bring parents to their breaking point, but Moravcik Walbert has some survival tactics. First, set up a schedule with your partner so you’re sharing the load of comforting the baby. And do this as soon as possible, ideally during a moment of calm, because “when the child is screaming is not the time to devise such a schedule,” she says. Ask for (and accept!) help from family and friends so you can get a break. And buy some ear protection. “When you’re in the thick of it all and trying to wrangle and soothe them, there is no shame in wearing earplugs or noise canceling headphones and listening to music or a podcast at the same time,” one parent recommends. “You’re still being there for them and it can help take the edge off.”

Continue reading the rest at theweek.com

Being the Dad You Want to Be

“Nothing has a stronger influence psychologically on their … children than the unlived life of the parent.” — C. G. Jung

Although I’m writing this before Father’s Day, this won’t be published until several days after June 20th. How seriously we think of fathering is something I wanted to consider.

Traditionally, our patriarchal culture has promoted men to be the head of their families, to be the strong protector, the dominant one in relationships. Yet, the outdated stereotype of fathers is not helpful to children and can often be damaging. The good news is that many more dads are now sharing the valuable role of raising their children. They continue to be important figures in their children’s lives, both in intact as well as divorced families.

Of course, not all father-child relationships are created equal. As much as many dads embrace their relationship with their children, there are indeed differences in how men view their role. Much of this depends on their family of origin, childhood trauma, and their ancestral patterns of fathering. Typically, boys learn very early to be strong rather than to feel. Between the ages of 4 and 6, they can easily be disconnected from their feelings, as they experience shame with emotional expression. As they mature, their need to fit in with peers becomes more important. Admitting vulnerability, sadness, or defeat can quickly bring rejection or the withdrawal of support from their peer group, compromising their self-confidence.

The pressure for boys to always be strong is demanding — as such a large part of life experience is about hurt, sadness, frustration, disappointment, and many other vulnerable feelings, boys miss out on developing their emotional intelligence. We can’t expect men to seamlessly transform into emotional partners or nurturing fathers if they haven’t been raised to be tender, open-hearted. As boys grow older, any “recovery” must happen in private, rather than risk shame. When they finally emerge from isolation, having suffered in silence, those feelings have been internalized. Thus, parents might only witness the withdrawal, without understanding the reasons or the distress signals. It’s important to change this pattern by responding differently to boys. Providing a safe environment in which they remain in touch with their feelings, we need to also be aware of our shaming reactions to our boys. The unconditional love and acceptance of them, regardless of their behavior, builds healthy self-esteem.

In thinking about how all this relates to fathers, boys ultimately grow into the men who become the next generation of husbands and dads. What expectations do we have? Women want soul mates, intimate friends/partners. We observe their interactions with our children through a critical lens, expecting emotional nourishment, close connection, warm engagement. Some dads can easily provide this, while others fall short of meeting those expectations, spending much of their parenting years being reminded of their shortcomings, retreating from any emotional connection. Yet fathers play such a valuable role in their children’s experience, offering a different lens on the world.

Continue reading the rest at freepressonline.com

Does Your Child Hate Soccer? Here are 28 Hobbies for Kids You Haven’t Thought Of

Does Your Child Hate Soccer? Here are 28 Hobbies for Kids You Haven’t Thought Of

Hobbies are skill-building activities that relax and inspire you on the regular. In fact, a good one is downright therapeutic for kids and adults alike. If the young person in your life is spending too much of their free time sitting passively in front of a screen , a new interest is likely the only intervention they need. Of course, you can’t pick a hobby for another human, since the ones that really stick are those that speak to a person’s individual interests, but chances are you know your child pretty well. If you’re hoping to give your kid a gentle push in the right direction (i.e., away from Roblox), plant the seed by suggesting one of these unique and stimulating hobbies for kids.

1. Gardening

Aside from the obvious appeal of a hobby that allows kids to get their hands dirty, gardening is also an excellent activity for mindfulness , so it will calm your kid down while providing a physical workout to boot. Bonus: You don’t even need to have an outdoor space of your own for your child to put their green thumb to work, because time spent at a community garden can be equally rewarding.

2. Volunteering

Regular volunteer work is a crash course in compassion that teaches kids the importance of giving back to the community. It’s also a fun way for kids to make new friends and meet interesting people from all walks of life. Plus, given the huge variety of volunteer opportunities available, this hobby will never get old.

3. Chess

This classic game of strategy provides a stimulating challenge at every level of play. The critical thinking involved in chess also has major brain-boosting benefits and kids can join chess clubs and compete in tournaments for some friendly competition as their skill-level increases.

4. Yoga

Yoga is a well-known and widely practiced activity that strengthens muscles, improves physical fitness and calms the mind—and it’s not just for grown-ups. Yoga classes for kids are an excellent option for young people who want a hobby that involves physical activity, without the competitive component of most other sports.

5. Photography

Older kids can nourish their creativity with photography as a hobby. Of course, you’ll have to provide the camera and your child will need to put some effort into learning the skills that go into getting a good shot, but the process of exploring their surroundings in search of new subjects is sure to inspire budding artists.

6. Scrapbooking

Any kid who’s old enough to work with a pair of scissors can take up scrapbooking—a hobby that encourages self-expression and creativity, while producing pieces of art that will continue to inspire pride any time […]

Continue reading the rest at www.purewow.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