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Parenting in a Pandemic: Lives in the Balance Survey Reveals Depth of Emotional Struggle for Parents of Kids with Behavioral Challenges

December 16, 2020 GMT

PORTLAND, Maine--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Dec 16, 2020--

The non-profit Lives in the Balance today released findings from its “Parenting in a Pandemic” Survey revealing that parents of children with behavioral issues have been faring much worse than parents as a whole over the past nine months. Lives in the Balance, based in Portland, Maine, is an organization committed to helping kids with concerning behaviors, and their caregivers, in ways that are compassionate, non-punitive, collaborative, and effective, whether during a pandemic or otherwise.

Many parents are emotionally struggling

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The survey questioned more than 1000 parents of children ages 3-17 about how the pandemic has been affecting their lives and mental health. It found that while all families have been struggling with massive disruption to routines, more time together, and greater parental oversight of children’s academics, the data gives a fresh and specific level of insight into how parents and youth have been handling these changes and stressors:

  • For parents as a whole: 73 percent feel greater stress, 71 percent are experiencing greater burnout as a parent, 38 percent are less optimistic about their child’s future and 18 percent like their kids less than before.

  • While for parents of children with behavioral issues: 84 percent feel greater stress, 78 percent have experienced greater burnout as a parent, 43 percent are less optimistic about their child’s future and 24 percent like their kids less than before.

“The pandemic’s massive impact on family routine means parents are juggling greater responsibilities at home with reduced access to resources and very little emotional relief,” said Dr. Ross Greene, child psychologist and founding director of Lives in the Balance. “However, parents that have the added component of managing a child with behavioral issues are feeling the weight of today’s heavy environment to an even greater degree.”

Behaviorally-challenged kids are being impacted more

The survey found that while 59 percent of all children are no longer receiving the same level of pre-pandemic academic support, this change is more likely to negatively affect those with behavioral challenges. Such children are more likely to be withdrawn and regress emotionally and educationally:

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  • For parents as a whole, as compared to before the pandemic: 56 percent say their child is more challenging than before, 43 percent say the child is more withdrawn, 49 percent have regressed emotionally and 42 percent have regressed educationally.

  • While for parents of children with behavioral issues ( 64 percent of which are not getting the same level of pre-pandemic care): 65 percent say their child is more challenging behaviorally, 49 percent say the child is more withdrawn, 56 percent have regressed emotionally and 50 percent have regressed educationally.

Parents of kids without behavioral issues are much more positive about their current situation, and are more likely to have experienced quality time as a family ( 76 percent versus 67 percent for parents with behaviorally challenged kids) and say their relationship with their child has improved during the course of the pandemic ( 53 percent versus 45 percent).

Parents have lowered their expectations

Parents as a whole are lowering their expectations, as both education and free-time activities have become a compromise:

  • For parents as a whole: 68 percent have lowered their expectations about how their child spends free time and 50 percent have lowered their expectations regarding their child’s academics.

  • While for parents of children with behavioral issues: 73 percent have lowered their expectations about how their child spends free time and 57 percent have lowered their expectations regarding their child’s academics.

“While it might seem that parents lowering their expectations is not a positive development, it may be a matter of survival for many families,” Dr. Greene said. “Every parent and child has a breaking point, and these are unusual, stressful times. These results reveal compelling insight into the current family temperature. The vital next step is to collaborate with children around solutions, while also allowing time for parental self-care.”

Dr. Greene is an advocate of having caregivers collaborate with children on solutions to problems, pandemic or no pandemic. “It’s always important to find out what’s getting in the way of expectations a child is having difficulty meeting, rather than merely insisting on compliance,” said Dr. Greene. “Giving kids a voice and involving them in designing the solution are very good ways to reduce conflict and truly solve the problems that are causing concerning behaviors. And caregivers can’t forget to take time for themselves whenever possible.”

Despite the desire for additional help and support, 20 percent of parents say the increased stress will impact their decision to celebrate the holidays with other family members.

About Lives in the Balance

Lives in the Balance, the non-profit organization founded by child psychologist Dr. Ross Greene, provides vital, accessible resources and programs to caregivers of behaviorally challenging kids. Dr. Greene is the originator of the evidence-based Collaborative & Proactive Solutions (CPS) approach and author of the influential books The Explosive Child, Lost at School, Lost & Found, and Raising Human Beings. Dr. Greene served on the faculty at Harvard Medical School for over 20 years, and is now adjunct Professor in the Department of Psychology at Virginia Tech and adjunct Professor in the Faculty of Science at the University of Technology Sydney in Australia. For more information, please visit www.livesinthebalance.org.

View source version on businesswire.com:https://www.businesswire.com/news/home/20201216005728/en/

CONTACT: Media Contact: Meredith Fletcher

mfletcher@missionandcause.com

404.316.8330

KEYWORD: MAINE UNITED STATES NORTH AMERICA

INDUSTRY KEYWORD: GENERAL HEALTH FAMILY CONSUMER MENTAL HEALTH PRESCHOOL OTHER EDUCATION PRIMARY/SECONDARY PARENTING EDUCATION CHILDREN WOMEN HEALTH

SOURCE: Lives in the Balance

Copyright Business Wire 2020.

PUB: 12/16/2020 10:30 AM/DISC: 12/16/2020 10:31 AM

http://www.businesswire.com/news/home/20201216005728/en