Every parent has to deal with a myriad of personal issues every day. It can be anything ranging from a bad day at work, financial worries, health worries or disagreement with your partner. Whatever be the reason, parents need to know how to deal with their issues and arguments in front of children.
What are some things parents should always remember during conflicts or arguments?
- Never be abusive physically or verbally and keep the kid out of any arguments.
- Do not scream, blame or threaten the person that you are having a problem with. Kids are impressionable and such behaviour can easily affect their future behaviour.
- Your kid should not be in the room while you and your partner argue about anything related to your kid.
- All the arguments at home should be resolved as soon as possible to prevent them from becoming major issues later.
- Always have a problem-solving attitude and maturity while dealing with issues in front of children.
- Remember to always keep your rage in control and if you do lose your temper, always apologize.
- Assure your kid that no matter what personal issues or arguments take place, everything will be okay.
How do a parent’s personal issues affect children?
Parents having incessant fights or arguments at home, parents bringing their work stress home, parents dealing with financial troubles or any other personal issue can have a long run adverse impact on a child’s coping mechanism and behaviour. Some of the common ways children get affected are
- Lack of problem-solving skills
Kids who continually watch the parents grappling with their personal issues and failing to solve them in a matured manner often grow up to become such adults themselves.
Fights, losing temper during arguments and being aggressive only exacerbates the problem and the kids assume aggression is the only way to deal with personal issues.
- Lack of relationship-building skills
Increased aggression instead of proper problem-solving skills makes it harder for kids to make meaningful friendships at school.
Moreover, such behaviour results in the kids having dysfunctional or failed relationships when they grow up. Sometimes such kids develop a fear of every relationship and become isolated as a means of self-preservation.
- Emotional trauma
Parents failing to deal with their personal issues leading to fights and worrying at home often trigger helplessness, anxiety and other mental health issues in children.
- Physical problems
More often than not, mental health problems are accompanied by physical health issues in kids. Kids tend to deal with their helplessness by either overeating or they stop eating.
Some kids develop behavioural problems where they form phobias. Some kids suffer from headaches, stomach aches or stomach problems.
- Poor concentration on studies
Watching parents worried about their personal issues or watching them fight keeps the children distracted. The kids’ minds are always preoccupied with anxiety, uncertainty and fear of the worse.
This causes poor concentration on studies and kids often miss out on the joys of extracurricular activities.
- Low self-esteem
The inability of parents to deal with their personal issues sends the message that the kids also can’t deal with their issues. This leads to lack of confidence, low self-esteem and low-respect in the kids. This affects their ability to perform well and take their own stances in both their professional and personal lives in the future.
- Communication gap
If both the parents are arguing and fighting most of the time and there is an air of negativity and tension at home, it will frighten the child to communicate with them. He/she will lack the ability to express himself/herself in front of them and that will lead to misunderstanding.
Communication gap may lead to serious trust issues and may even cause mental breakdown for the child.
- Trust issues
The constant fight between parents at home and also arguing over personal problems in front of their children not only affects them mentally but it also leads to trust issues.
Arguments and fights will inculcate a sense of fear in the minds of children and they will find it difficult to express themselves in front of unknown people. They will feel that they are getting judged by other people.
- Behaviour issues
Too much tension between parents can make children aggressive and even make them socially unacceptable. Children will find it difficult to adjust themselves. They will get easily agitated and will look for escape mechanisms instead of facing problems head-on.
They will also find difficulty in adjusting to school. Their friends will misunderstand them to be aggressive or will term them as ‘strange.’
- Eating disorder
Several studies have correlated a high parent discord with eating disorders, such as anorexia and bulimia. A child can have physical effects such as issues with sleep, stomach or headaches as well. They will not want to eat and that will make them weak both emotionally and physically.
They will suffer from nausea and can even lead to loss of weight. Their immunity system will be affected and that will make them prone to diseases.
- Overstress about taking sides
Children usually want to satisfy all parents, and the need to take sides in a dispute may be distressing for them. They could not grasp the basis of the dispute and take a side that could blow up the dispute too much greater proportions.
This will also make them feel unwanted and unknowingly they might get the notion that they are the reason behind their parents’ problems. This will make children feel distressed and suffocated.
- Will grow up to normalize wrong deeds
Another serious and often overlooked effect is the normalization of wrongdoings including verbal, physical or emotional violence, especially of parents fighting physically in front of children. A child growing up in a household in which parents call one another name always, may feel that it is appropriate to always do those things.
Although members of the family may be more likely to tolerate this form of attitude or action, these children have a tough time achieving great heights in life.
- Get addicted to Drugs
According to research, in a household where both parents are abusive and always fighting over trivial matters in front of children, it can force or allure children to start taking drugs from a tender age to try and escape from the emotional trauma that they are going through.
Taking drugs will not only affect children physically but will also make them delusionary and make it difficult for them to differentiate between reality and hallucination.
Parents do not realize that when they fight in front of their children and call each other names, it affects them emotionally and sends a wrong notion to them that they are the reason why their parents are fighting. Such thoughts often lead to depression and it can even make children suicidal. If children have such thoughts. It is concerning and it can force them to take such drastic steps.
- A negative approach to life
Children pick up certain behavioral traits from home which changes their approach towards life. They will have negative thoughts about their family and also about others. They will not learn to build a family. They will remain ignorant of responsibilities and will also promote toxic behavior.
They will also start questioning themselves and also have a negative approach towards themselves. They will look for ways to self-harm and that will have them aggressive.
- Suffer from insomnia
Insomnia might sound like a common disease but children suffering from insomnia are concerning. If parents are continuously fighting in front of their children, children are bound to always be under stress. Too much stress will affect the children’s sleep cycle and that can take a toll on their health.
It will also slow down their mental development. They will remain cranky most of the time throughout the day. They will also have a tough time concentrating.
- Feel unloved
When parents fight over trivial problems, children feel unwanted and unloved. They will have a feeling that their parents do not take their feelings and emotions into account. They will gradually isolate themselves from their parents and become quiet.
They might also develop a feeling of hatred for themselves. Children often start hiding their feelings from their parents and that eventually makes them quiet and also makes them unsocial.
- Suffer from Clinical Depression
Children who are brought up in a toxic household or in an environment where both parents are aggressive, gradually get diagnosed with clinical depression. Clinical depression can be fatal if not treated at the right time.
Children slipping into depression because of the negligence of parents is of serious concern. They will stop eating and stay aloof from everyone. If not addressed, they can even attempt suicide to escape from the reality or problem.
- Suffer from Schizophrenia
When parents fight and call each other names in front of their children, it affects the mental health of children immensely. There are chances where they can even become schizophrenic. Schizophrenia is a state where one sees distorted images or hears voices that are not there.
Children who suffer from schizophrenia, fail to differentiate between reality and their imagination. This will affect their personality in the long run and will also reduce their thinking ability.
What are the ways to deal with personal issues in front of children?
- Keep your anger controlled
Your kid should never witness any out of control rage in a parent. No matter how frustrated you are at your job or how big the fight is with your spouse, always keep in mind that your kids are present and you should behave appropriately in front of them.
- Keep notes during arguments
If you are arguing with your spouse, try writing down the points that you would like to make during the next discussion. This will shed clarity to the discussion and will also help to keep things objective. This will also show your kid how things should be targeted with a problem-solving attitude and not with aggression.
- Keep your kids out of arguments
Kids often try to help and mitigate the situation by intervening and try to calm the parents. However, this puts pressure on kids that they need to take a side and that unless they intervene the situation won’t improve. This is a tremendous burden on a kid.
- Be on the lookout for signs of stress in the kids
Every child is different and every one of them adopt different ways of dealing with situations. Some kids tend to isolate or withdraw whenever they sense conflict or worries. They tend to cover their eyes and lock themselves up in their room. Some kids start experiencing stomach aches or unexplained headaches.
Some kids adopt poor dealing techniques like either aggression or over anxiety. Some kids lash out at school to compensate for helplessness at home. These are the signs that parents need to keep an eye out for.
- Financial worries
Some debate that kids should never know about their parents’ financial troubles, while some think that kids can handle it. Whatever you decide, remember to always stay calm and composed in front of the kid.
- Potential worries
If you are worried about losing your house or if you are worried about anything that might potentially happen, keep them a secret from the kids. Kids often jump to a worst-case scenario and that makes it even harder for them to cope with the uncertainty.
Remember whatever you are dealing with in life, you and your partner are a team and should present a united front to the kids. Every adult has to deal with bad days, unsatisfactory jobs, criticizing family members, conflicts with spouses, and a lot of other personal issues. The important thing is to be empathetic, calm, cool-headed, and to have a problem-solving attitude in front of the kids.
Should parents never fight in front of kids?
Experts suggest that never fighting or not letting your kids see parents fight at all can also have negative effects. Making them believe that happy relationships should never have fights or conflicts will set them up for disappointments in their future relationships. Kids need to know that it is natural to have conflicts and arguments but parents should always be calm and empathetic while arguing.
Should my kid have a say in arguments regarding his screen time?
Parents should never include kids in discussions related to their discipline or routines. The time to wake up or screen time or any decision relating to the child’s well being should be done once the kid has gone to sleep or is not around. Parents need to discuss their concerns and resolve the issue by themselves.
Should my kid know about my issues with in-laws?
Kids are better off without knowing a parent’s conflicts or issues with in-laws or other family members. Such information will make them defensive or they will become confused and won’t know how to behave around the said family members.
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“Love, patience, and guidance – these three words describe me the best. I founded “TheRightParent” dedicated to helping parents navigate the ups and downs of raising children. As a father of two children, I have been studying the principles of effective parenting for over a decade and my passion lies in sharing my insights with others. My mission is to empower parents to become better guides for their children