CHICAGO, March 31 (Xinhua) -- The stress and uncertainty caused by COVID-19 has taken its toll on parents, as their children are feeling the psychological and physical brunt of it, said a study posted on the website of the University of Michigan (UM) on Tuesday.
Researchers launched an online survey on March 24, about one week after the White House administered social distancing guidelines to slow the virus spread. The survey included 562 adults, of which 288 or 51 percent were parents of at least one child aged 12 and under.
Respondents reported on their mental health and well-being, parenting and economic situation during the coronavirus pandemic. They also provided answers to open-ended questions about how their child's behavior and their parenting have changed since the global health crisis.
While most parents said they feel closer to their children while staying at home, parents also reported high levels of psychological and physical punishment of children.
Some 50 percent of parents are worried they can't afford to pay bills, and 55 percent are worried that money will run out.
Some 52 percent of parents said financial concerns are getting in the way of their parenting; while 50 percent of parents are contributing it to social isolation.
About one in six parents said they had spanked or slapped their child or children at least once in the past two weeks. Eleven percent said they had done this a few times or more.
The rates of shouting, yelling and screaming at children are high, with four out of 10 parents saying they had done this a few times or more in the past two weeks.
When asked whether or not these behaviors are an increase over their usual behaviors, 19 percent said they are yelling or screaming more and 15 percent 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 Shawna Lee, lead author of the study and director of the UM Parenting in Context Research Lab.
The researchers did note that the findings were not totally bleak. Eighty-eight percent of the parents reported that they and their children had shown love for each other in the last two weeks.