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Fighting and arguing is a part and parcel of married life – there’s no way around it! From parenting styles to division of work at home, a couple will most likely fight about all things big and small. But these fights can turn nasty with no warning, and having a child witness such nasty fights can be categorised into child abuse, because it can impact the child’s mental and physical health in negative ways. Read on to understand more.
Negative Effects of Parents Fighting in Front of Kids
Every couple has disagreements, which, when peacefully resolved are healthy. However, if these squabbles turn into big fights, they can have a nasty impact on children. So how do parent fights affect a child? Listed below are some of the negative effects.
The effects of parents fighting in front of children can be disastrous. When very small children witness ugly fights in between their parents it can instigate poor problem-solving issues in them. Also on seeing their parents fighting and arguing, eventually children start to believe that this is the way to solve problems. Thus, they try to resolve their issues in the same way with everyone. This can result in dysfunctional and failed relationships.
2. Emotional Distress
Domestic violence or parents physically fighting in front of the child can cause immense emotional distress. Witnessing regular fights between parents can trigger early anxiety issues and other mental health issues in children. Children witnessing domestic violence in the early stage of their life have higher chances of turning out to be insecure adults with poor self-esteem issues.
3. Failure in Relationships
Children emulate what they see their parents doing. If you and your spouse are constantly fighting, your child will most likely grow up learning the same thing. As a result, your child’s relationship with his partner may suffer in adulthood. It may even lead to your child feeling the need to avoid relationships from the fear of getting hurt.
4. Health Problems
Seeing their parents fight regularly may make children feel anxious, depressed, and helpless. As a result such children often start to find comfort in food, they may either stop eating or over-eat. They could suffer from headaches or stomach aches. They may even have trouble falling asleep at night. Fighting between parents can give rise to behavioural issues like phobia etc.in children.
5. Low Self-Esteem
Mixed feelings of shame, guilt, unworthiness, and helplessness caused due to witnessing domestic violence can take a toll on the child’s mental health. As a result, the child’s self-esteem suffers, and he may find it hard to maintain a good self-image in both professional and personal fronts.
6. Unable to Concentrate on Studies
The constant fights between parents can keep the child’s mind pre-occupied and in constant fear and uncertainty. He may keep on thinking about it and maybe unable to concentrate on anything else.
Signs Parents Arguments Are Affecting the Child
Parents arguing in the presence of their child can prove to be detrimental to the overall well-being and development of the child. Listed below are few of the signs which indicate that a child is affected by his parents fighting:
- The child starts crying or doing something to seek attention the minute he sees his parents arguing.
- On seeing his parents fighting, the child becomes absolutely quiet.
- The child looks and talks like he is insecure about something.
- The child looks scared when he sees his parents shout and yell at each other.
- The child tends to fight with his peers and not get along with other kids.
- The child does not mingle much with other kids and is mostly termed anti-social.
- The child shows signs of abnormal behaviour.
- The child tends to blame himself when his parents start to argue and fight.
- The child shows signs of depression.
- The child does poorly in school and in co-curricular activities.
- The child may prefer being away from his parents.
- The child may complain of headaches, stomach aches or some other health issue to divert the parents’ attention from fighting.
Things to Keep in Mind While Fighting in Front of Your Child
It is obvious that a couple will have their share of arguments. However, these fights should not go so far that they frighten your children. Read on to understand the things to keep in mind while fighting in front of your child.
- Never abuse each other physically or call ugly names in front of your children. If you are unable to do so, kindly seek professional assistance before it ruins your and your children’s lives.
- Avoid screaming at each other or threatening each other, as that can have a negative impact on your child. As a married couple, you might have certain disagreements but disrespect shouldn’t be practised there. This ‘out of control’ rage in you or your spouse can set a bad example for the children and impact their views on relationships and marriage.
- It’s inevitable that you will disagree with your spouse about certain rules around parenting, but make sure not to bring it up when your children are around.
- Try to resolve your arguments when they first start to arise so as to prevent them from turning into major issues.
- Avoid dragging the argument for a long time. Instead, resolve it with maturity and do so in front of your children. This way, both you and your spouse can have closure and your kids will learn from experience that disagreements should be solved maturely and that a solution can be attained.
- Make sure never to involve the child in your arguments. If the child is made to feel that he has to choose either parent or take sides, he might feel torn and confused and may end up blaming himself for the conclusion of the fight.
- After an argument with your spouse, assure your children that you and your spouse still love each other and respect each other and that the children are not to be blamed for the fight. Make them understand that parents can have arguments sometimes.
- Try to not lose your temper in front of your child, and apologise when you do. This will teach him that losing one’s temper is not the answer to solving a conflict.
- Avoid talking ill about a person in front of your child during a heated exchange. Refrain from using bad language to address someone. Instead, use a calm tone and talk out your problems.
Conflicts and disagreements are part of married life. It is completely understandable that a couple can have disagreements, but the important thing is to work them out amicably and come out with constructive solutions. Parents must understand how their fighting can affect their children’s well-being, world-views and personality; this is why they must ensure that all fighting and arguing in front of children is done in a manner that does not affect them adversely.
Resources and References: Developmental Science