University of Michigan report: COVID-19 causing conflict between parents, children

Posted at 9:16 AM, Mar 31, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-31 13:47:26-04

(WXYZ) — Children are feeling the psychological and physical brunt of the stress and uncertainty caused by COVID-19, University of Michigan researchers say.

More parents have shouted, yelled or screamed at their children at least once in the past two weeks, according to a new report. During that same timeframe, researchers say one in six parents spanked or slapped their child.

Shawna Lee, the report's lead author, says parents throughout the country have encountered unprecedented challenges in the midst of the pandemic.

"For a large number of parents, financial concerns, other worries, social isolation, loneliness and sadness are getting in the way of parenting," Lee said.

The researchers launched an online survey on March 24, one week after social distancing guidelines were established. The survey included 562 adults; 288 were parents of at least one child age 12 and under.

Respondents reported on their mental health and well-being, parenting and economic situation during the pandemic.

According to the study, most parents said that they feel closer to their children while staying at home, but also reported high levels of psychological and physical punishment of children. Nineteen percent of parents said they are yelling or screaming more and 15 percent said they increased their use of discipline since the pandemic.

When asked whether or not these behaviors are an increase over their usual behaviors, 19% said they are yelling or screaming more and 15% said they increased their use of discipline since the pandemic.

"Given that these data were collected relatively early in the coronavirus pandemic lockdown, we can expect these rates to increase over time as economic conditions worsen and parents' stress levels increase," said Lee, director of the U-M Parenting in Context Research Lab.

Although the findings seem bleak, researchers say 88 percent of parents reported that they and their children had shown love for each other in the last two weeks.

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