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Parental Stress During the Pandemic

You Are Not Alone

By Hania Arshad
Guest Writer | The Pacific Times

Staying isolated from friends and family, committing to indoor activities, and the switch to a virtual lifestyle are only a few of the many adjustments individuals have made during the COVID-19 pandemic. Isolation is essential in preventing the spread of COVID-19 but has resulted in heightened feelings of worry and frustration, especially among parents.

Families, understand that you are not alone. Those stressful, negative emotions are natural and reactionary behaviors一 the result of an abnormal period in our lives. According to a survey conducted by the American Psychological Association, almost 50% of parents reported high stress levels because of the pandemic1. Feeling trapped at home, facing overwhelming financial worries, and the constant need to supervise your child’s educational day can understandably feel debilitating.

Parental stress can cause harmful and lasting consequences for both children and parents without healthy outlets and protective factors. Multiple research studies2 determined that stress is a large contributing factor in child abuse. An accumulation of parental stress, generated from emotional and physical demands of parenting, contributes to abusive parenting methods: controlling behavior, neglect, and even harsh forms of discipline2. A case study from The National Center for Biotechnology Information revealed that economic, emotional, and physical stressors from the coronavirus have significantly elevated feelings of stress, anxiety, and depression in households3. Parents who continuously find themselves in stressful situations are more prone to developing aggressive behaviors or increased frustration; as a result, potential for child maltreatment has risen during this time. However, parents who are in supportive environments and have outlets and skills to manage their emotions are far more likely to have reduced levels of stress, and therefore, a lessened risk of compromised parenting 3. Greater parental support and perceived control during the pandemic are associated with lower perceived stress and child abuse potential3.

NP3 school psychologist Dr. Jeremy Greene emphasizes the importance of combating parental stress during this difficult time. He states that “parents are the foundation of their child’s life and often are the individuals who the child looks towards in assessing how to react in regards to a stressful situation. Thus, considering the pandemic and the shifts that have occurred for most of our children, it is important that parents continue to be mindful of how their stress impacts their child’s stress levels, as well.”

Fortunately, there is an abundance of resources available which offer support to parents and children who feel overwhelmed with their role of parenting as a result of the current pandemic.

  • ¨Families Under Pressure. Helping Relieve Today’s Parents & Kids¨ by Laura Dockett: Laura Dockett iterates her own feelings of parental stress during the pandemic, opening up with the initially strained relationship with her own children. Dockett admits to feelings of anger and frustration due to the pandemic but is working to address attitudes/emotions from her children with compassion and understanding. Her willingness to be vulnerable about these struggles eased feelings of shame and anxiety from many parents.
  • Mental Health Resources for Natomas Families: This website provides multiple support resources for both parents and students in Natomas. The website’s header introduces a counseling service called Care Solace. Care Solace provides easy access to mental health support services for families and refers them to the best and most affordable therapy or mental health programs. They also work with families who do not have insurance. Further down, you will find the Virtual Tutoring and Wellness Center (VTWC). VTWC offers parenting classes and counseling headed by Natomas school psychologists and social workers. At the bottom of the website, there are online resources specifically catered towards tips for coping with stress during the pandemic.
  • Parenting Tips During the Pandemic and Supporting Families During COVID-19: For parents who feel overwhelmed juggling work, household responsibilities and childcare at the same time during this pandemic. This article provides tips for family guidelines, online school, and managing behavioral problems in a safe and proactive manner.
  • Self-Care for Parents: “For parents, prioritizing your own well-being benefits your whole family.”
  • California Parent & Youth Helpline and National Parent Helpline: If you are a parent or youth feeling overwhelmed, these helplines offer support in the morning until evening via phone call, live chat, or text. Don’t be afraid to reach out if you are feeling stressed!
  • WarmLine Family Resource Center aims to assist parents of children with special needs. They offer free consultations, help connect parents who feel isolated with other families to formulate meaningful connections, create community events catered towards children, and offer workshops and online resources for additional support.

Recognizing the importance of self-care and garnering support from others is a huge step forward, and looking into these resources can help you work towards a healthier environment for yourself and those around you.

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