Reducing Parental Conflict - The Impact On Children
Any failure in rearing a child can, in part, be attributed to poor parenting rather than character flaws of the child himself. To avoid this, parents should reframe displaying marital conflict in front of the child.
Conflict is not itself harmful; it is the degree of conflict that can cause harm to the child. Beneficial conflict are mild disagreements between parents. Here discussion remains calm, there is no long term animosity and a mutual satisfying solution is reached. It here that children learn the critical social skills of compromise and negotiation.
Harmful conflict involves hostility expressed through shouting and insults which in some cases can mutate to violence. Such conflict has the following negative effects on the child:
Loyalty issues: Children have trouble understanding the nature of parental arguments and yet feel
compelled to take sides to avoid the wrath of the parents whom they feel are in the position to hurt them.
Excessive Anxiety: Seeing parents argue shatters any feelings of domestic peace which is so vital for the security of a child. Just as terrifying is the thought of parents eventually divorcing.
Depression: Children who witness repeated disputes between parents tend to see the world in a negative light because of the absence of productive conflict resolution in their very own home and from those who are supposed to be their ultimate role models.
Guilt: Children somehow see themselves as the cause of parental conflict and feel frustrated with the unrealistic goal of trying to resolve it.
Aggression:Children who see their parents acting aggressively will in turn act out their aggression on others. They tend to see reality only from their vantage point and try to impose it on others using intimidation and even violence.
How do you then shield your child from marital conflict? Here are five steps:
The above strategies will demonstrate to your children that you are in control which in doubt will provide re-assurance that is vital for a stable home for all parties.
Even in situations where your children were exposed to unrestrained conflict between you and your spouse you still can implement some form of retroactive damage control. This can be done by validating your children’s feelings by admitting to the harm that you may have caused them while at the same time giving them re-assurance that you are taking steps to rectify the situation. This sends strong messages to them that no matters how bad things have become there is always hope for improvement. Such a strategy is vital for children to develop crisis management skills instead of them breaking down in the face of ongoing problems which can in the long run by rectified with perserverance.
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