Parental Conflict and its Effects on Kids

positive kids canada child therapists

By Fatima Malik

At what age are kids affected by parental conflict?

Kids start showing distress due to parental conflict as early as six months.

They can react with fear, anxiety, anger and sadness. Kids witnessing parental conflict are at a higher risk of experiencing various health problems, disturbed sleep, and difficulty focusing and succeeding at school.

What’s the solution?

It is about how you resolve or handle the conflict.

No Relationship is without some conflict and disagreement. 

All children will witness their parents arguing at one point or another. 

Avoiding conflict isn’t the solution here; the answer is knowing how you handle the conflict as the child witnesses. 

For example, when parents relate to one another in a calm and positive manner, especially during an argument, when they solve problems together and show their kids through their subsequent interactions that the conflict has been resolved, then the children are not negatively impacted, in fact, it might help them to learn conflict resolution skills. These skills can be instrumental as they grow up and have relationships to manage. 

The types of Parental conflicts that are harmful to kids are ones that happen too frequently or when the arguments are heated and hostile, including verbal insults and shouting. 

Another one is when parents become physically aggressive, withdraw from the argument or give each other the silent treatment. 

When these arguments threaten the intactness of the family, and when the subject of the argument is the child. 

(The examples in this article do not address domestic violence, which is, of course, highly harmful to the child).

Whether the parents are married or living together doesn’t make a difference if they are in conflict and the child witnesses it. 

How can we help the kids?

Suppose your child has witnessed conflict in the home that you know to be harmful to their mental health. In that case, it is essential to talk to a doctor or a professional psychologist/psychotherapist to get them the necessary help and mitigate the risk of further damage to their emotional health as well. 

A well-adjusted adult usually has an emotionally healthy childhood. 

There is only so much you can do to protect your child from trauma or stress in this world, but what you definitely can do is try to be the least of their problems.

Learning new skills as an adult may be challenging, but you will automatically transfer those skills to your children if you can learn healthy conflict resolution.

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