Child's well-being is the most frequent source of stress for Iranian parents, a new study has found.

Iran PressIran news: For most children and adolescents, the past year has not been a typical condition.

Instead, there have been rigid stay-at-home policies and home confinements, repeated opening and closures of primary and secondary schools, social distancing from peers, teachers, and other school-based supports, limited or no access to outdoor spaces, natural environments, and extracurricular activities, and a sharp rise in screen time and sedentary behaviors.

Over the past year, the family unit has been in a tough situation as well, with financial instability as well as increased psychological distress for parents and caregivers. Independently and collectively, these factors can catalyze behavioral and emotional difficulties in children and adolescents.

At the beginning of the pandemic, children and adolescents were the lowest-risk groups with regards to medical concerns and complications from COVID-19. Now, over a year into the pandemic, they have emerged as the most vournable groups for physical and mental health impacts of the pandemic and considerable source of stress for their parents.

New research by the University of Tehran (Co-SPACE Iran), in collaboration with the University of Oxford and Emerging Minds, has examined approximately 1,600 Iranian parents/carers who have taken part and completed the survey from April to August 2020. 
The study aimed to report some preliminary findings from the first 1,600 participants who completed the survey and this was reached on 15/08/2020 by when 1,624 parents/carers had taken part.
This study explored a range of subjects including Parents sources of stress, children and young people who have not been communicating with their friends and family, the percentage of children and young people who have not spent time on physical activities and being outside, children and adolescents who have not been communicating with their friends and family outside the household.
nearly all of the parents in the survey were working in different forms. Only 7% were unemployed or seeking work.

The research team surveyed more than 1,600 parents of children and youth aged 4 to 18 years old. Findings of this study highlighted that child's well-being is the most frequent source of stress for Iranian parents, followed by their child's future. 
The top 3 stressors for parents or carers were (i) child's well-being, (ii) children's future, and (iii) child's screen time during the COVID-19 pandemic. In this study, nearly all of the parents in the survey were working in different forms (full-time and part-time). Only 7% were unemployed or seeking work. Over two-thirds of parents reported that they were sufficiently meeting the needs of both work and their child during the pandemic.

Findings of this study have also investigated the routine life among children and adolescents during school closure in Iran.

Results show that just over one-third of school-age children and young people completed two or more hours of schoolwork per day. Nearly just 20% of children and young people are keeping in contact with friends via video chat. In terms of physical activity, around one-third of children are getting more than 30 minutes of exercise per day. Notably, over two-thirds of parents reported that their children were spending "nothing" or less than 30 minutes of energetic physical activity per day, inside or outside the house.

Since March 2020, the University of Tehran researchers have tracked children, adolescents, and parents' mental health throughout the COVID-19 outbreak, to support them recognize what protects children and families from deteriorating mental health and how this may vary according to child and family socioeconomic status. The findings of this study indicate that prolonged school closures and COVID-19-related restrictions have negatively affected children's and parent's well-being and it is important to support children and families to learn how to cope with these challenges during the pandemic.  

Research by Co-SPACE Iran: Mohsen Rajabi
Department of Psychology, Faculty of Psychology and Educational Sciences, University of Tehran, Tehran, Iran.

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