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Parenting during a pandemic – researchers pull together top tips to help families cope


Parenting during a pandemic – researchers pull together top tips to help keep children safe

COVID-19 has rapidly changed family dynamics across the world as governments instigate lock downs to slow the spread of the disease, forcing families to spend every waking hour together, often in cramped and stressful conditions.

With 1.42 billion children now out of school across the world, researchers from UKRI’s GCRF Accelerating Achievement for Africa’s Adolescents (Accelerate) Hub have joined forces with the World Health Organization (WHO), UNICEF and others to produce evidence-based tips for parents covering aspects such as planning one-on-one time, staying positive, creating a daily routine, avoiding bad behaviour, managing stress, and talking about COVID-19.

The primary purpose of these leaflets is to help parents build stronger and more positive relationships with their children during these tough times, but the advice is also intended to help prevent some families reaching crisis point that could result in violence and abusive situations for children in vulnerable situations.

Lucie Cluver, Professor of Child and Family Social Work at the University of Oxford who leads the Hub explains: “It is essential that we respond to global emergencies with the best evidence. In a matter of days, more than a billion children are suddenly out of school. Families need effective support to manage this new situation.

“We were lucky that the existing structure and funding of our UKRI GCRF Hub allowed us to act swiftly. In just 72 hours we have brought together international experts to collaborate on a series of stress-busting leaflets and messages. We condensed the findings from a series of randomised controlled trials we have carried out across the world, and created tip sheets and social media messages. WHO and UNICEF have already started to get these out to millions of families globally.”

The set of six one-page parenting tips are available from WHO and UNICEF. These resources highlighted in The Lancet were created in partnership with WHO, UNICEF, the Internet of Good Things, US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), USAID, the Global Partnership to End Violence Against Children and UKRI through the Global Challenges Research Fund Accelerating Hub.

Professor Helen Fletcher, UKRI’s Director for International Development, said: “These tips are a fantastic resource for parents and carers all over the world. It is a fantastic example of researchers and experts around the world sharing their knowledge and on-the-ground insight to quickly respond to a crisis situation. Whether you are juggling the needs of your children in the UK or in developing countries at this challenging time, these tips, based on the very latest research findings, offer something for everyone.”

Volunteers are currently translating the sheets into over 50 languages, with translations available on covid19parenting.com

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