Psychological Science Faculty Publications and Presentations

Links between Children’s COVID-19 Fear and Parents’ Parenting Stress, Overprotective Parenting, Inconsistent Discipline, and COVID-19 Communication

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The COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted many aspects of daily life for U.S. parents and their children; however, research regarding parenting styles during the pandemic has been limited. We used a cross-sectional design to evaluate parents’ perceptions of overprotective parenting, inconsistent discipline, COVID-19 communication, and children’s COVID-19 fear. We surveyed 595 United States parents recruited via Amazon Mechanical Turk in May 2020. We found that parents’ overprotective parenting was associated with greater parenting stress and children’s greater COVID fear. Conversely, we found that parents’ overprotective parenting was related to parents’ reduced COVID-19 communication with their children. We also found that parents’ inconsistent discipline was positively related to parents’ parenting stress and children’s COVID-19 fear. Our findings suggest parents may benefit from additional supports through the COVID-19 pandemic and that further research is needed to evaluate the nature of parents’ COVID-19 communication to their children.


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Journal of Child and Family Studies