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      Child Externalizing and Internalizing Behavior and Parental Well-Being During the COVID-19 Pandemic

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            In this study we surveyed families’ experiences with parental depression, stress, relationship conflict, and child behavioral issues during six months of the COVID-19 pandemic through the COVID-19: Global Social Trust and Mental Health Study. The current analyses used data collected from online surveys completed by adults in 66 countries from April 17, 2020-July 14, 2020 (Wave I), followed by surveys six months later at Wave II (October 17, 2020-January 31, 2021). Analyses were limited to 175 adult parents who reported living with at least one child under 18 years old at Wave I. Parents reported on children’s level of externalizing and internalizing behavior at Wave I. At Wave II, parents completed self-reported measures of stress, depression, and inter-partner conflict. Child externalizing behavior at Wave I significantly predicted higher levels of parental stress and marginally predicted parental depression at Wave II, controlling for covariates. Child internalizing behavior at Wave I did not predict parental stress or depression, controlling for covariates. Neither child externalizing nor internalizing behavior predicted parental relationship conflict. The overall findings demonstrate that child behavior likely influenced parental stress and depression during the COVID-19 pandemic. Findings suggest that mental health interventions for children and parents may improve the family system during times of disaster.


            Author and article information

            UCL Open: Environment Preprint
            UCL Press
            8 September 2021
            [1 ] School of Criminology and Justice Studies, University of Massachusetts Lowell
            [2 ] Department of Psychology and Human Development, University College London, London UK
            Author notes
            Author information

            This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY) 4.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/, which permits unrestricted use, distribution and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.

            : 8 September 2021
            UCL Global Engagement Fund 563920.100.177785

            The datasets generated during and/or analysed during the current study are available in the repository: http://www.doi.org/10.5522/04/16583861
            Psychology,Social & Behavioral Sciences,Family & Child studies
            Mental wellbeing,Health,Externalizing problems,Internalizing problems,COVID-19,Children,Relational conflict,Parental stress,Family


            Date: 02 February 2022

            Handling Editor: Dr Matthew O. Gribble

            Editorial decision: Request revision. The Handling Editor requested revisions; the article has been returned to the authors to make this revision.

            2022-02-02 10:56 UTC

            Date: 23 September 2021

            Handling Editor: Dr Dan Osborn and Dr Matthew O. Gribble

            This article is a preprint article and has not been peer-reviewed. It is under consideration following submission to UCL Open: Environment for open peer review.

            2021-09-23 15:50 UTC

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