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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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.

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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 […]

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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.

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7 positive lockdown activities to practice as a family

7 positive lockdown activities to practice as a family

Maintaining a balance in life can be difficult but it’s not impossible.

A lot has been always talked about and written of mandatory restrictions that are imposed, in order to control the transmission of the coronavirus , but unfortunately not a lot of importance has been given to the mental crisis caused by this virus, which today is overriding everyone’s emotions, be it of kids or elders. According to the latest report issued by the National Centre for Biotechnology Information, mental issues like stress, anxiety, depressive symptoms, insomnia, denial, anger and fear have been reported globally.

Apart from individual sufferings, Covid-19 has also placed a heavy burden on families, with parents who are still not settled with navigating their work-life balance and kids unable to gear up with virtual learning.

Maintaining a balance can be difficult but it’s not impossible. Families, by coming together, can open many routes of positive thinking and make changes that suit their lifestyle at this given time. Here are some positive activities that families can practice during a lockdown to stay sane.

1. Exercise

This may sound quite ordinary but here’s a reminder why it is important to add exercise to your family’s calendar. Since connecting as a family is becoming more and more difficult these days, due to an excessive distraction from devices that vie for our attention throughout the day. It’s important to bring everyone in the family under one roof at least during the beginning and by the end of the day.

With this new sedentary lifestyle due to virtual classes and work-from-home schedules, everyone tends to move really less, however physical exercise is an opportunity to get everyone together and improve the well-being of all family members.

Some more reasons to practise physical activities as a family: Any physical activity signifies your healthy lifestyle choices; modelling it as a family practice will help you set an example as a parent.

While exercising, awareness plays an important role and it makes one feel fully present and engaged with the family.

Apart from these reasons, the primary aim is to set an intention of belonging and an environment of connection, which can act as a driving force for everyone in these difficult times.

2. Have a family screen time

This may sound bizarre, especially when parents are talking about limiting screen time , but indulging in movie time can help parents spend some extra time with their children and maintain their sanity levels. Parents can introduce their children to some old classics like Mrs. Doubtfire; Dr. Doolittle; Sound of Music; Honey, I Shrunk the Kids and The Avengers so that they are not stuck to Tom and Jerry […]

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How to use a trip to the playground to help your children strengthen their memory

How to use a trip to the playground to help your children strengthen their memory

To remember things, you need to give them your full attention.

American neuroscientist and bestselling author of Still Alice, Lisa Genova’s key findings on preventing Alzheimer’s disease show how to enhance memory to retain information. This research can be adapted to children.

Children can be supported to exercise their mind muscles. They can learn the best ways to get information efficiently into their heads and access it effectively when they need to.

In her book Remember: the science of memory and the art of forgetting Genova points out to enhance memory we don’t need to play “computer brain games” or “read books on recall strategies”, what we simply need to do is improve our skills of noticing.

She writes that “noticing requires two things: perception (seeing, hearing, smelling, feeling) and attention”.

You can use a trip to the playground to help your children strengthen memory muscles and become better learners.

This can be done by paying attention, slowing down, mind mapping, rehearsing, enhancing the senses and mixing things up up. Getting there

Fill your child’s backpack with snacks and drinks, and small figurines such as fairies, lions, tigers, koalas, dinosaurs or favourite small cars and trucks for storytelling and mud play. Figurines are great for storytelling and mud play. Kid’s binoculars and magnifying glasses are great for noticing and spying on birds and bugs.

Pack watercolour paints, brushes and recycled paper for painting, and chalk and brown baking paper for tracing bark, leaves, rocks, hands and play equipment. Play dough is great for natural sculptures.

Then you’re on your way. Creating a mind map

Like all animals humans use mind mapping to create maps of our immediate environment to navigate our surroundings. Our brain is wired to recall where things are located in space.For wild animals this is critical for survival and for children, it helps them to feel safe. You can’t do mind mapping in a car – it requires walking. Walking to the playground, run your hands across fence palings and smell rosemary twigs. Encourage your children to do this too.

Let your kids notice the things around them to create a mind map of their journey. Collect eucalypti leaves, gum nuts, acorns and other natural loose objects and pop them in the bag to be used later in potions or paintings at the park. You could make chalk drawings of rivers and fish on the pavement as a way of finding your path back home.

This pace may seem slow but to really notice, you need to slow down. A lot of neural work is happening as children construct a mind map. The more time adds detail to the memory.

Exercising the mind

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