The impact of COVID-19 on families: Children’s mental health and the role of stress parents experience
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Background. At the start of 2020 COVID-19 has spread all over the world. In the Netherlands, societal measurements were taken to stop the disease from spreading. Previous research showed that the impact of pandemics can influence the mental health of children. There are also indications that the experienced stress of parents elevates during this pandemic. Moreover, this stress can influence the mental health of children. The current study focuses on the question ‘Is the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic related to the mental health (i.e., internalizing and externalizing behaviours) of 1-to-6-year-old children, and does the stress parents experience play a role?’ Method. An online questionnaire was distributed to collect data. A total of 1328 parents participated. Two did not complete the questionnaire. Therefore, data of 1326 parents were analysed. Results. Results showed that the experienced negative impact of the COVID-19 pandemic was positively associated with the internalizing and externalizing behaviours of 1-to-6-year-old children. In addition, higher levels of experienced negative impact were associated with higher levels of stress in parents. Moreover, the experienced stress of parents was positively associated with the internalizing and externalizing behaviours of children. Results showed an indirect effect between the experienced negative impact and the internalizing and externalizing behaviours of children, with the experienced stress of parents as mediator. Discussion. This study showed that there is an association between the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and the mental health of 1-to-6-year-old children. Moreover, the stress parents experience plays a mediating role in this association. Limitations and implications are discussed.