Trajectories and Associations Between Maternal Depressive Symptoms, Household Chaos and Children's Adjustment through the COVID-19 Pandemic: A Four-Wave Longitudinal Study

Avigail Gordon-Hacker, Yael Bar-Shachar, Alisa Egotubov, Florina Uzefovsky, Noa Gueron-Sela

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

The COVID-19 pandemic and associated public health measures have adversely affected the lives of people worldwide, raising concern over the pandemic's mental health consequences. Guided by a systemic model of family functioning during the COVID-19 pandemic (Prime et al., 2020), the current study aimed to examine how caregiver well-being (i.e., maternal depressive symptoms) and family organization (i.e., household chaos) are related to longitudinal trajectories of children's emotional and behavioral problems. Data were collected at four time points during and after home lockdown periods. Mothers of children (N = 230; 55% male) between the ages of two to five years were asked to complete questionnaires via an Israeli online research platform. Results indicated that emotional and behavioral problems, household chaos, and maternal depressive symptoms were the highest during the first lockdown assessment and dropped in the post-lockdown periods. Multilevel models further revealed that at the between-participants level, maternal depressive symptoms and household chaos positively predicted children's emotional and behavioral problems. At the within-participants level, household chaos fluctuations positively predicted fluctuations in child behavioral but not emotional problems. Our findings suggest that lockdowns have adverse effects on both maternal and child mental health. Screening for depressive symptoms among mothers of young children and maintaining household structure are important targets for future interventions to assist parents in navigating the multiple challenges brought upon by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Original languageEnglish
JournalResearch on Child and Adolescent Psychopathology
DOIs
StateAccepted/In press - 1 Jan 2022

Keywords

  • COVID-19
  • Child behavior problems
  • Child emotional problems
  • Family processes
  • Household chaos
  • Maternal depressive symptoms

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health

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