Higher Levels of Harsh Parenting During the COVID-19 Lockdown in the Netherlands

  • Novika Purnama Sari (Creator)
  • Marinus van IJzendoorn (Creator)
  • Pauline Jansen (Creator)
  • Marian J. Bakermans-Kranenburg (Creator)
  • Madelon M.E. Riem (Creator)
  • Marinus van IJzendoorn (Creator)
  • Pauline Jansen (Creator)
  • Marian Bakermans-Kranenburg (Creator)



Previous studies on the impact of COVID-19 indicate that pandemic-related distress increases risks for child maltreatment, although data on the scope of this problem are still scarce. Here, we assessed whether parents with toddlers (n = 206) more often used harsh discipline during the lockdown in the Netherlands compared to a matched parent sample collected prior to the pandemic (n = 1,030). Parents were matched on background characteristics using propensity score matching. We found that harsh parenting levels were significantly elevated compared to pre-pandemic levels. Harsh parenting behaviors with a low prevalence before COVID-19 increased most strongly: shaking, calling names, and calling the child stupid. These results suggest that parental tolerance for children’s disobedience is lower under the adverse circumstances of COVID-19 and, as a result, abusive parenting responses are more difficult to inhibit. Thus, a lockdown seems to increase risks for child maltreatment, underscoring the need for effective support strategies for at-risk families.
Date made available2021

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