What Happens to Children When Parents Fight

Fighting and arguing is part and parcel of married life – there’s no way around it! From parenting styles to division of work at home, a couple will most likely fight about all things big and small. But these fights can turn nasty with no warning, and having a child witness such nasty fights can be categorised into child abuse because it can impact the child’s mental and physical health in negative ways. Read on to understand more.

Adverse Effects of Parents Fighting in Front of Kids

Every couple has disagreements, which, when peacefully resolved, are healthy. However, if these disputes turn into big fights, they can have a nasty impact on children. So how do parent fights affect a child? Listed below are some of the adverse effects.


The effects of parents fighting in front of children can be disastrous. When children witness ugly fights between their parents, it can instigate poor problem-solving issues in them. Also, on seeing their parents fighting and arguing, eventually children start to believe that this is the way to solve problems. Thus, they try to resolve their issues in the same way with everyone. This can result in dysfunctional and failed relationships.

Unable to Concentrate on Studies

The constant fights between parents can keep the child’s mind pre-occupied and in constant fear and uncertainty. He may keep on thinking about it and may be unable to concentrate on anything else.

Emotional Distress

sad child with his head between his legs left alone at home

Domestic violence or parents physically fighting in front of the child can cause immense psychological distress. Witnessing regular fights between parents can trigger early anxiety issues and other mental health issues in children. Children witnessing domestic violence in the first stage of their life have higher chances of turning out to be insecure adults with poor self-esteem issues.

Health Problems

Seeing their parents fight regularly may make children feel anxious, depressed, and helpless. As a result, such children often start to find comfort in food; they may either stop eating or over-eat. They could suffer from headaches or stomach aches. They may even have trouble falling asleep at night. Fighting between parents can give rise to behavioural issues like phobia etc.in children.

Failure in Relationships

Children emulate what they see their parents doing. If you and your spouse are always fighting, your child will most likely grow up learning the same thing. As a result, your child’s relationship with his partner may suffer in adulthood. It may even lead to your child feeling the need to avoid relationships from the fear of getting hurt.

Low Self-Esteem

Mixed feelings of shame, guilt, unworthiness, and helplessness caused due to witnessing domestic violence can take a toll on the child’s mental health. As a result, the child’s self-esteem suffers, and he may find it hard to maintain a good self-image in both professional and personal fronts.

Signs Parents Arguments Are Affecting the Child

Parents arguing in the presence of their child can prove to be detrimental to the overall well-being and development of the child. Listed below are few of the signs which indicate that a child is affected by his parents fighting:

The child starts crying or doing something to seek attention the minute he sees his parents arguing.

On seeing his parents fighting, the child becomes absolutely quiet.

The child looks and talks like he is insecure about something.

The child looks scared when he sees his parents shout and yell at each other.

The child tends to fight with his peers and not get along with other kids.

The child does not mingle much with other kids and is mostly termed anti-social.

The child shows signs of abnormal behaviour.

The child tends to blame himself when his parents start to argue and fight.

The child shows signs of depression.

The child does poorly in school and co-curricular activities.

The child may prefer being away from his parents.

The child may complain of headaches, stomach aches or some other health issue to divert the parents’ attention from fighting.

Things to Keep in Mind While Fighting in Front of Your Child

It’s obvious that a couple will have their share of arguments. However, these fights should not go so far that they frighten your children. Read on to understand the things to keep in mind while fighting in front of your child.

Never abuse each other physically or call ugly names in front of your children. If you are unable to do so, kindly seek professional assistance before it ruins your and your children’s lives.

Avoid screaming at each other or threatening each other, as that can hurt your child. As a married couple, you might have inevitable disagreements, but disrespect shouldn’t be practised there. This ‘out of control’ rage in you or your spouse can set a bad example for the children and impact their views on relationships and marriage.

You will inevitably disagree with your spouse about certain rules around parenting, but make sure not to bring it up when your children are around.

Try to resolve your arguments when they first start to arise to prevent them from turning into major issues.

Avoid dragging the argument for a long time. Instead, resolve it with maturity and do so in front of your children. This way, both you and your spouse can have closure, and your kids will learn from experience that disagreements should be solved maturely and that a solution can be attained.

Make sure never to involve the child in your arguments. If the child is made to feel that he has to choose either parent or take sides, he might feel torn and confused and may end up blaming himself for the conclusion of the fight.

Following an argument with your spouse, assure your kids that you and your spouse still love and respect each other and that they are in no way responsible for the dispute. 

Try not to lose your temper in front of your child, and apologise when you do. This will teach him that losing one’s anger is not the answer to solving a conflict. Need some help in managing your uncontrolled hissy fit and aggressive behaviour? Anger Management Course Online is here to assist you with all your anger issues. From one-on-one counselling to anger management courses, they offer a wide range of services to help you let go of that negative emotion that can destroy your life in seconds…

Avoid talking ill about a person in front of your child during a heated exchange. Refrain from swearing. Instead, use a calm tone and talk out your problems.

Conflicts and disagreements are bound to happen in married life. Couples fight all the time, but the most important thing is to sort them out amicably and come out with constructive solutions. Parents must understand how their fighting can affect their children’s well-being, world-views and personality. That’s why they must ensure that all fighting and arguing in front of children is done in a way that does not affect them adversely. 

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