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Managing Children’s Fears during the COVID-19 Pandemic: Strategies Adopted by Italian Caregivers

Landoni, M, Silverio, SA, Ionio, C and Giordano, F (2022) Managing Children’s Fears during the COVID-19 Pandemic: Strategies Adopted by Italian Caregivers. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 19 (18). ISSN 1661-7827

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Open Access URL: https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph191811699 (Published version)


Background: Life-threatening events, such as the COVID-19 pandemic, may generate feelings of insecurity and fear in the affected population, particularly children. Parents’ ability to help children cope with negative emotions is essential during challenging periods. The current study aims to analyse the coping strategies adopted by Italian caregivers concerning their children’s fears about COVID-19. Method: An online survey was administered during the Italian lockdown to 649 parents of at least one child aged 5 to 17 years old. Respondents completed the survey for themselves and their children. In addition, a qualitative content analysis of the data from the open-ended question was conducted (N = 569; 87.9% women; MAge = 45 years). Results: Several themes were identified. Firstly, families’ primary approach was ‘communication and meaning-making’. Secondly, another essential strategy was ‘the importance of safe space’, enabled by keeping routine in place and creating a loving and caring environment. Thirdly, other factors relevant to managing children’s fears were ‘adaptation’, ‘religion’, ‘a positive attitude’, and ‘humour and hope’. Finally, the last two strategies significant and valuable for Italian families were ‘flexibility’ and ‘maintaining virtual contacts. Conclusion: During the pandemic COVID-19, parents may have used various strategies to protect their children from stress. Future research could investigate single parents’ coping strategies explicitly developed during the COVID-19 lockdown.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: Humans; Fear; Communicable Disease Control; Adolescent; Middle Aged; Child; Child, Preschool; Caregivers; Female; Male; Pandemics; COVID-19; COVID-19; children; content analysis; coping strategies; family resilience; fear; parents; qualitative; Adolescent; COVID-19; Caregivers; Child; Child, Preschool; Communicable Disease Control; Fear; Female; Humans; Male; Middle Aged; Pandemics; Toxicology
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
R Medicine > RA Public aspects of medicine > RA0421 Public health. Hygiene. Preventive Medicine
Divisions: Psychology (from Sep 2019)
Publisher: MDPI
SWORD Depositor: A Symplectic
Date Deposited: 05 Dec 2022 12:23
Last Modified: 05 Dec 2022 12:23
DOI or ID number: 10.3390/ijerph191811699
URI: https://researchonline.ljmu.ac.uk/id/eprint/18260
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