Thursday, May 19

Couple discussions: how do they affect the children?


The couple discussions they are part of the life of every family. The fights or disagreements between the parents of a child can be a constructive element for the family to learn to solve everyday conflicts and they can strengthen the family bond.

But if the arguments between the couple are Repeated, unhealthy, or educational, these can have negative repercussions on the development and well-being of children.

Effects of arguments on children

Children exposed to repeated discussions in which there is disrespect and in which the level of aggressiveness is high negatively affect boys and girls. “Repeated arguments in the family affect him emotionally, relationally and developmentally because in the end the relationship with the parents is the first relationship, the first structure that children take as an example“, explains Laura Górriz Duran, psychologist, director of Center FIA (Center for Family, Child and Adult Psychology).

The parents of a child are the children’s referents. They listen to us at all times, but above all they observe us, see us and believe that they should follow the example we give them. “In families with high conflict or processes of separation, divorce or in which the aggressiveness is very high, what the children are observing in these reference figures is the failure to resolve these conflicts without forgiveness, without reconciliation and without knowing how to manage it in a single way. healthy way. They take that example and incorporate it into their range of relational styles.“, Add.

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Arguments also generate great emotional distress in children. In the preliminary study ‘The effects that parents’ arguments have on their children’, they investigated 344 boys and girls aged between 6 and 8 years who were shown two images: one was of a happy couple having a coffee and in another a couple facing each other and arguing. The children were asked to imagine their parents in that scene. The results of the study showed that when the parents were happy, 83.4% of the children were happy, and when the parents argued, 37% felt sad, 17% worried, 14% angry and 7, 5% scared.

Children learn that unhealthy arguments are the example to follow Freepik


The danger of children repeating the same behavior

The repercussions of discussions between couples do not have a direct action on children, but they do have an indirect effect. The discussions between the couple will be “one of the types of relationships that they will observe throughout their lives and then there are other relational examples in the associated environment from adolescence on,” says Górriz Duran.

Although there are more examples of relationships that learn throughout life, the relationship and discussions between parents are the first and most important example that they learn. In this way, what they are going to see at home, if there is high conflict or lack of respect, they are going to assume it as “normal, expected and natural.”

If the discussions are constructive, these conflicts can be a good example for children. The respect-based discussion that arises from everyday problems can be resolved in front of the children, thus exposing them to future problems that they will have to deal with. “We can teach them that discussion is necessary in conversation and in a healthy relationship with the other individual, as long as there is no disrespect or physical or verbal aggression.” Therefore, if the discussions are constructive and healthy, the example that the child is taking is that situations can be solved without shouting or verbal aggression.

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The child’s belief that he is the cause of the argument

Children may believe that they are the cause of conflict in the family. Górriz Duran says that some children have a childhood fantasy for which they believe they are responsible for all the situations that happen and for all the moods. That is, they believe that if their parents are happy it is because of them, and if they argue it is also because of them. This belief increases if the child is named in the discussions, and in these cases, as the psychologist points out, it will be very difficult for children to believe that it is not their fault.

Tips so that arguments do not negatively affect children

Laura Górriz Duran gives us some keys so that the discussions are as constructive as possible and do not have an impact on the children:

  • If there is nothing educational to get out of that discussion, you have to keep them on the sidelines.

  • If there is a high level of discussion, you should reflect on the relationship and what is going wrong.

  • Healthy communication: It is best for couples to take notice of the discussion and find a solution to it. For example with phrases such as “maybe I said this, but I didn’t think about it. Actually I was referring to the other” or “better to speak it at another time when the children are not there”. But as Górriz Duran warns, the families that use these resources do not expose their children to discussions with high conflict and many times the situation is so overwhelming that the families do not have that resource to redirect or stop the conflict.


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