Everyday life is changing, and children may be struggling with significant adjustments to their routines which could Conflict is a natural part of cohabitation with a spouse or romantic partner. Especially during these stressful times, it is normal and healthy to have verbal disagreements with your loved ones when these disagreements are peacefully resolved. However, constant fighting with no clear resolution can have negative effects not only on you, but on your children as well. Not only does fighting in front of children set a negative example that kids may replicate later in life, but it also has various negative mental health effects that can be present in the short term. Let’s break down some of these effects below:
Increased Level of Stress Hormones:
Prolonged and/or violent episodes of fighting between parents and/or caregivers in the home can cause the production of high levels of stress hormones in children. These hormones can circulate in children’s bodies for hours and cause disruptions to both normal sleep patterns as well as patterns of behavior.
Disruption of Cognitive Processes:
The primary goal during and after experiencing any traumatic event is to ensure the presence of a supportive and caring Fighting among caregivers in the home can disrupt various cognitive processes in children, such as the ability to process information, attend to task, problem solve and pay attention to environmental stimuli.
Difficulty with Processing Emotions:
Fighting between parents and/or caregivers in the home can change the ways in which children process emotions. If left unaddressed, these changes can lead to problems with managing social relationships later in life.
Feelings of Insecurity:
Chronic fighting in the home can lead to feelings of insecurity about the family unit. In this particularly emotional state, children may obsessively worry about whether their parents will resolve their dispute or whether they will end up staying together. This chronic sense of worry may develop into a state of persistent anxiety in which children learn that they have to be prepared for any fights that may occur in the home at all times.
Stress within the Parent-Child Relationship:
The stress involved in being in constant dispute with a partner or loved one is difficult for a parent as much as it is for a child. This stress can cause parents to avoid open demonstrations of warmth and affection with family members and/or spending quality time with their children.
Children benefit developmentally from the presence of supportive, loving relationships inside the home. While it is perfectly normal to expect parents or caregivers to argue or disagree sometimes, chronic fighting in the home can have a lasting impact on children’s mental, social and emotional health. Parents and caregivers who can successfully resolve arguments in a peaceful and constructive way can help model appropriate dispute resolution techniques, as well as, healthy emotional regulation practices that children can use with their peers outside of the home. Helping parents and caregivers understand the effects of their dispute resolution practices on their children is the first step in helping set the stage for healthy family and child development.