What effects do parents’ fights have on their children? Rava Special Report

What effects do parents’ fights have on their children? Rava Special Report


Discussions between parents can be considered normal, but the way they are handled can drastically affect the health of the children.

In general, cordial discussions between parents have little or no effect on children, but scientific studies have concluded that this changes when the fights are more aggressive , there are screams or even the parents withdraw the word.

This is defended in an article recently published in the Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry , Professor Gordon Harold and academic Ruth Sellers.

The BBC commissioned Harold an analysis on the consequences that may have on children the discussions that parents have before them and these are some of the conclusions of the expert.


In his article, Professor Harold concludes that a wide selection of academic research developed since the 1930s around the psychology of the child (along with a variety of experimental work and long-term follow-up), shows that children exposed To the conflict they may experience a higher heart rate and have imbalances in hormones related to stress.

All that can happen from as young as six months.

It is also possible that they suffer delays in brain development , sleep problems, anxiety, depression and behavioral problems.

Couple of children with their backs
Copyright of the GETTY IMAGES imageImage caption Children experience conflicts differently than girls, according to scientists.

Those children who see less intense fights but for a continuous period can also develop the same problems.

In addition, disputes are experienced differently by boys and girls.

Professor Harold maintains in an article published in the journal of psychology The development of the child that while the former usually experience behavioral problems, the latter are more emotionally involved.

Divorce, or the decision of parents to take separate lives, has often been seen as the worst scenario for children, says the academic.

However, Harold, along with his colleague Mervyn Murch, in the publication The Child and the Family Law, says that discussions about separation are what most affect minors, beyond the rupture itself.

Silence, also a problem

Intense discussions are not the only element that can affect children, says Harold in his analysis.

When the relationship between adults cools or the word is removed, the youngest can suffer emotional and behavioral problems.

Harold, who teaches psychology at the University of Sussex (England), says that the quality of the relationship between parents can establish a pattern of behavior that could be repeated even in the following generations.

Group of girls at school
Copyright of the PA imageImage caption The family situation can lead to a decline in the academic performance of minors.

How to avoid it?

The teacher says that, according to studies have concluded, children are often quick to detect the behavior of parents and may know that something is wrong even if the discussions are kept “in private.”

What really matters, in the scholar’s opinion, is how children interpret and understand the causes and possible consequences of conflicts. Based on this they will be able to detect if a fight has a tendency to worsen, if they will be involved or if it can put family stability at risk, he argues.

To reduce the harm that discussions can do to children, he stresses, it is important to face them in a pedagogical way.

Daughter with her two parents
Copyright of the GETTY IMAGES imageImage caption Divorces and conflicts do not have to be traumatic if confrontations are avoided and the reasons for the disagreement are explained to the children.

Parents should understand that it is normal to have disagreements, and so they should explain to their children. In fact, Harold says, they tend to respond better when they are clarified the causes of the fight and possible ways to resolve it.

Harold concludes that when parents explain the process of resolving a conflict to their children, they are offering them an important education that they can put into practice in the future and extend to an environment beyond the family.

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