6 Effects of Parents Fighting in Front of Children

Impact of Parents Fighting in Front of Children

Medically Reviewed By
Dr. Rashmi Prakash (Psychologist/Psychotherapist)
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Navigating the ups and downs of married life requires effective communication and conflict resolution. Disagreements over parenting styles and household responsibilities are common, but it’s crucial to handle conflicts constructively. Nasty fights, if witnessed by children, can be detrimental to their well-being, constituting a form of emotional abuse. Research suggests that exposure to intense marital conflicts can affect a child’s mental and physical health adversely. Therefore, fostering a healthy and respectful environment at home is paramount for the overall well-being of both the couple and their children. Prioritizing open communication and seeking professional help when needed can contribute to a more harmonious family life. Read on to learn about the impact of parents fighting on kids.

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.

1. Aggression

The effects of parents fighting in front of children can be disastrous. When very small children witness ugly fights 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 as everyone else. 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 lives 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 on both professional and personal fronts.

6. Unable to Concentrate on Studies

The constant fights between parents can keep the child’s mind preoccupied and in constant fear and uncertainty. He may keep on thinking about it and may be unable to concentrate on anything else.

Girl unable to Concentrate on Studies

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 a 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.

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. Try to resolve your arguments when they first start to arise so as to prevent them from turning into major issues.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. 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.
  9. 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.

How to Reduce the Negative Effects of Parents’ Fight on Children?

When parents engage in conflicts, it’s essential to mitigate the potential negative impact on their children. By implementing strategies to reduce the fallout from such disputes, parents can promote a healthier family dynamic and safeguard their children’s well-being. Here are some effective approaches:

1. Maintain Respectful Communication

Encourage open and respectful communication between parents, modeling constructive conflict resolution for children. Avoid shouting, name-calling, or using aggressive language during disagreements.

2. Shield Children From Conflict

Whenever possible, shield children from witnessing heated arguments or conflicts between parents. Create a safe space for children to retreat to during disagreements, such as their bedroom or a designated quiet area.

3. Reassure Children of Their Safety

Assure children that they are safe and loved, even during times of parental conflict. Reaffirm their sense of security by emphasizing that disagreements between parents do not diminish the family’s love and support for them.

4. Seek Professional Support

If conflicts between parents escalate or become chronic, consider seeking professional guidance from a therapist or counselor specializing in family dynamics. Professional intervention can help parents navigate conflicts more effectively and minimize their impact on children.


1. Are there differences in how boys and girls react to their parents’ fighting?

Research suggests that boys and girls may react differently to parental conflict. Boys may exhibit externalizing behaviors such as aggression, while girls may internalize their distress, leading to symptoms like anxiety or depression. However, individual differences play a significant role, and reactions can vary widely among children regardless of gender.

2. Can exposure to parental conflicts lead to academic challenges for children?

Yes, exposure to parental conflicts can impact children’s academic performance. Constant exposure to conflict at home can lead to stress, anxiety, and emotional distress, which may hinder a child’s ability to concentrate, learn, and perform well in school. Additionally, disruptions in the home environment can affect a child’s overall well-being, including their academic motivation and engagement.

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 personalities; 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.

Also Read:

Bad Parenting Signs and Its Impact on Children
Child Psychology – Tips To Understand Your Child Better
Conduct Disorder in Children – Causes, Symptoms & Treatment

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