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Thursday, Dec 12, 2019

How daily fights affect your child’s mental health

Think your child doesn’t understand the fights you have with your partner in their presence? You may be wrong... Read on.

sex-and-relationships Updated: Dec 02, 2019 08:26 IST
Collin Rodrigues
Collin Rodrigues
Hindustan Times, Delhi
Think your child doesn’t understand the fights you have with your partner in their presence? You may be wrong...
Think your child doesn’t understand the fights you have with your partner in their presence? You may be wrong... (Pexels)

During the dating phase arguments, fights, or disagreements are a common occurrence. This continues even after marriage among couples. The problem intensifies when people continue having friction in front of their kids without realising how severely it impacts their psyche — that they may be understanding what’s happening between their parents.

Swati Popat Vats, child counsellor, says, “A family is a child’s anchor and parents are the main parts of that anchor. When kids see disagreements between their parents, their whole world gets shaken up. It affects them emotionally, socially and cognitively.”

Here, with the help of experts, we understand how children get affected when their parents have disputes in front of them.

Restlessness and insecurity

When parents argue in front of children, it threatens their sense of security. Mishti Verma, play therapist, says, “Children find their sense of security in a stable home, which helps in building a foundation of trust. When parents fight in front of kids, they feel insecure.”

Lack of concentration

Frequent arguments among parents can lead to distraction issues in kids. Verma says, “During a play therapy session with a six-year-old, we saw that the real reason the child was not able to concentrate in school was not the learning challenge but the constant fights in her family.”

Guilt feelings

Feelings of guilt and low self-confidence are common among such kids. Verma says, “The child starts harbouring feelings of guilt by questioning whether he/she is the reason for such fights. This impacts their self-esteem and translates in behaviours of low confidence.”


Children in such situations will try different things to escape parental fights, such as lying. Verma says, “A couple had come with a complaint that their child lied a lot. We discovered that the child was trying to escape parental fights by creating make belief stories, which later became a pattern. When kids are uncomfortable with their current reality, they start looking for escape routes.”

Eating and sleeping disorders

Children dealing with parental conflict may develop eating problems. Dr Maya Kirpalani, psychologist and family therapist, says, “Children, between the ages of one to four, will keep the food in their mouth without chewing or swallowing for a long time because they seek attention. They may not get proper sleep and their information processing capabilities may get impacted. They also fail to improve their thinking skills.”

Rebellious nature

Kids in such families grow up to become defiant. Kirpalani says, “Kids from dysfunctional families don’t listen to their parents.” Suryawanshi says, “They also grow up to be major troublemakers and bullies.”

Fear of losing parents

What the parents argue about in front of their kids also has consequences. Kirpalani says, “When children witness their parents shouting and yelling about leaving the house or asking the spouse to get out of the house, it has serious effects on them. They fear that one of the parent may leave them as a result and start displaying clinging behaviour.” Fatima Agarkar, educationist says, “Negativity, overindulgence, inability to compartmentalise and separate home challenges from what they do in school, stunted learning and extreme view of the world around are some of the other effects of parental disagreements.”

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