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How parents’ fighting affects children

No matter how healthy a couple’s relationship is, there’s bound to be a few squabbles here and there!

And a few occasional disagreements aren’t a big deal.

Mature conversations, keeping it generally out of the kids’ view, and refusing to name-call all show a child how to deal with disagreements in a healthy manner.

But more serious conflicts definitely takes a toll on kids.

In fact, studies show parents’ fighting affects children’s mental health in several ways. Physical altercations, insults, and tactics such as “the silent treatment,” are just a few of the toxic interactions that are likely to create some emotional damage to a child in the long run.

The human mind is sensitive to the interaction between caretakers, especially during infancy and early childhood.

By engaging in a quarrel after showering their children with love and affection, parents end up sending contradictory information to them.

A healthy ‘child–parent’ relationship is vital for children’s mental health.

Effects Of Parents’ Fight On The Mental Well-being Of The Children:

Parental fights could affect various aspects of children’s lives, including physical, emotional, psychological and social.

• It has been proved that parental fights are psychologically destructive to children. Long-lasting parents’ fights can result in low self-esteem, feelings of loneliness, depression, anxiety, stress, sleep and learning problems.

• Children’s inability to deal with physical and verbal fights between parents manifests as emotional and behavioural indicators. Being argumentative, irritable, fragile, socially withdrawn, or vulnerable to abuse, frequent absenteeism, crying secretly, and truancy are some indicators.

• Children who witness parental fights are more likely to suffer from depression or drug abuse by their 30th birthday. They also tend to have poor interpersonal relationships.

• Most often, children acquire new information easily by watching others, especially their immediate role models; this is known as observational learning.

But, this process of learning also has an adverse effect.

For example, when parents fight in front of their child, the child’s behaviour becomes aggressive. Sometimes children hold themselves responsible for parental conflicts and feel guilty.

Also, they often worry about taking sides, although their aim is to have peace at home.

Tips To Handle Fights

Sometimes, a disagreement gets out of hand.

One person says something they don’t mean, another parent doesn’t realize that their children are listening on the other side of the wall.

Here are some tips for parents to deal with their conflicts so that children aren’t affected.

• Reassure the children that it was just an argument and not indicative of bigger problems. Reassure them that you still love each other and that you’re not going to get divorced (assuming, of course, that it’s a true statement.

• Finish it up by making sure the children understand that you’re still a strong family. Explain that arguments happen sometimes and people can lose their tempers. However, you all love each other, despite your disagreements.

• Protect: Guard children from being exposed to serious parental conflicts. Parental fights, especially physical assaults such as slapping, kicking or hitting, impact children irrespective of age. Thus, parents should not give children the opportunity to watch heated arguments. Remember, children know when parents are trying to fake the whole situation.

Avoid: There may be situations when one parent feels like shouting at the other. In such instances, it is better to leave the room or step away from the children’s hearing to deal with such uncontrollable emotions.

• Sometimes parents might find it difficult to resolve their conflicts. In such cases, they can take help from professionals and ensure peace at home. For, a negative home environment will affect the emotional status of children.

• Consider family as the solution to all the problems rather than a place to have only arguments. Being open to the ultimate objective of the relationship has the power to resolve any conflicts.

In short, quarrels are unavoidable in any family.

But, being able to deal with conflicts in a productive way and ensuring that they do not impact children contributes towards the health of those tender minds.

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Disclaimer: The views expressed in this article are solely of the author and do not represent ARY policies or opinion.