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Journal Article

Citation

Bianco F, Levante A, Petrocchi S, Lecciso F, Castelli I. Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2021; 18(19): e10450.

Copyright

(Copyright © 2021, MDPI: Multidisciplinary Digital Publishing Institute)

DOI

10.3390/ijerph181910450

PMID

34639750

Abstract

In order to explore the psychological impact of the COVID-19 outbreak on the caregiver-child relationship, we investigated the interplay among COVID-19 exposure and children's internalizing/externalizing problems during the Italian lockdown, hypothesizing a mediation effect played by maternal distress. Additionally, we included maternal reflective functioning (i.e., hypermentalization) as a moderator factor among this interplay. A total of 305 Italian mothers of children aged 6-13 years (M = 10.3; SD = 2.4) filled in an online survey.

FINDINGS revealed an indirect effect of maternal COVID-19 exposure on children's anxious/depressed (k(2) = 0.46) and attention problems (k(2) = 0.32) via maternal distress. Hypermentalization moderated the impact of maternal COVID-19 exposure on children's anxious/depressed problems (β = -1.08, p = 0.04). Hypermentalization moderated both the relation between maternal distress and children's aggressive behaviors (β = 12.226; p < 0.001) and between maternal distress and children's attention problems (β = 5.617, p < 0.001). We found pivotal significant effects of maternal hypermentalization on children's anxious/depressed and attention problems, indicating that the higher the mother's hypermentalization was, the higher the children's problems were. Our results broaden what we knew on the role of maternal reflective and emotional functioning on children's emotional/behavioral adjustment during stressful situations.


Language: en

Keywords

COVID-19; children’s externalizing problems; children’s internalizing problems; maternal psychological distress; reflective functioning

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