School of Behavioral Sciences


Doctor of Philosophy in Psychology (PhD)


Marilyn Peyton


COVID-19 stress, resilience, children's mental health, anxiety, aggression




During the COVID-19 lockdowns, experts predicted an increase of children’s mental health issues. However, not all children showed symptoms after lockdowns lifted. The study’s purpose was to examine parental stress and resilience during COVID-19 lockdowns and their relationship to children’s behaviors, specifically anxiety and aggression after lockdown. Participants included 61 parents of children currently aged 7-11 who did not have mental health disorders before COVID lockdowns. Most parents were white, non-Hispanic within middle to high income ranges. The quantitative study used a correlational design. Parents were recruited through school websites and social media sites which linked them to a 122-question survey that included demographic questions, and scales measuring parental COVID stress/resilience and children’s anxiety/ aggression. Research questions were written in couplets with the first couplet addressing parental COVID stress and the second couplet parental resilience as they both related to children’s anxiety and aggression. The last couplet examined whether parental resilience mediated the effects of COVID stress on children’s anxiety and aggression. The research questions regarding COVID stress both showed a significant relationship; however, parental resilience only showed relationships using the GAD and Self-Aggression subscales. The Self-Aggression subscale showed no relationship using Spearman’s Rho. The final questions regarding resilience as a mediator had a non-significant relationship. Parental COVID stress was found to be related to children’s mental health outcomes after returning to school, while resilience was related to GAD in children, and possibly to self-aggression. Parental education in stress reducing self-care might improve mental health behavior outcomes in children long-term.

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