This article was originally published here
J Dev Behav Pediatr. September 29, 2021. doi: 10.1097 / DBP.0000000000001010. Online ahead of print.
OBJECTIVE: The 2019 coronavirus disease pandemic and associated public health measures have influenced all aspects of the lives of children and families. In this study, we examine changes in children’s behavioral health and family well-being at the onset of the pandemic.
METHOD: We used longitudinal data on 2,880 children from a US state collected over 3 waves to compare the well-being of family and children before and after an established statewide stay-at-home notice. in March 2020. We descriptively examined levels and changes in 4 child behavioral health outcomes (externalizing, internalizing, adapting and deregulated behaviors) and 4 family well-being outcomes ( parental mental health, parental stress, conflict in parent-child relationships and domestic chaos) during the pre-closure and post-closure periods. Fixed-effect regression models were used to predict within-child and within-family differences in pre- and post-discontinuation outcomes.
RESULTS: Fixed effects analyzes showed the externalization of children (0.09 point; 95% confidence interval [CI] 0.05-0.13), internalizing behaviors (0.04 point; 95% CI, 0.01 to 0.08) and deregulated behaviors (0.11 point; 95% CI, 0, 06-0.16) increased after discontinuation, while children’s adaptive behaviors decreased (-0.10 point; 95% CI, -0.15 to -0.05). Parental mental health problems (0.22 point; 95% CI, 0.17-0.27), parental stress (0.08 point; 95% CI, 0.03-0.12), relationship conflict parent-child (0.10 point; 95% CI, 0.04-0.16), and household chaos (0.10 point; 95% CI, 0.05-0.14) all increased by compared to pre-closure levels.
CONCLUSION: Many children experienced a decline in their behavioral health and many families experienced a decline in their well-being during the first months of the public health crisis, suggesting the need for family-centered policies and children to mitigate these changes.