Parents’ arguments and child’s mental health

by 高莫娜 Mona
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Mark Cummings, psychologist at Notre Dame University says “Children are like emotional Geiger counters,” He, along with colleagues, has published hundreds of papers over twenty years on the subject.  Cummings further says that kids pay close attention to their parents’ emotions for information about how safe they are in the family. When parents are destructive, the collateral damage to kids can last a lifetime.

No matter how happy and healthy a couple’s relationship is, minor arguments and disputes are unavoidable. When parents resolve those minor conflicts in front of their kids, it helps them understand how mature talks can resolve disagreements in a healthy way. But more serious conflict definitely affects the children’s emotional and mental health. There’s research to suggest that a child as young as 6 months old can be negatively affected by harsh parental arguments. In fact, there are studies which show that young adults, up to age 19, can be sensitive to parental fights and disputes.

It is best advised that the parents should avoid confronting each other in the presence of their children. Another destructive consequence of parents fighting is that the kids get involved and at times tend to take sides. It is another alarming situation and will affect the parent-child relationship in future. 

Our kids are emotionally insecure and parents are their only safety points, if they’ll argue, their sense of safety takes a toll and they start looking for emotional support. This is the time when the kids get into bad influence and fall for drugs. 

Apart from insecurity and fear, children start living in a stressful environment which definitely affects their physical and psychological wellbeing. All these factors may lead to long term mental health effects. They might not be able to resolve simple disputes because of the long term exposure to insecurity, fear and emotional abuse.

Researchers believe that children can benefit if parents manage conflict well. Glucoft Wong, a therapist and parent’s educator, says “Little eyes are watching, and little ears are listening. Parents should model real life at its best. Let them overhear how people work things out and negotiate and compromise.”  Arguments are not a problem, the way of resolving it, for sure is. All arguments, disputes and disagreements can be handled well with kindness.

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