These are the surprising reasons why it’s okay to fight in front of your kid.
Why It’s Okay to Fight in Front of Your Kids
Every relationship goes through rough patches. Conflicts and fights arise even in harmonious marriages. Dr. Gordon Harold, a researcher at Cardiff University said it’s unrealistic to say that parents shouldn’t argue in front of their children. He added that disagreements are a “natural part of relationships.”
However, we can’t deny the fact that fighting in front of your kids can have bad effects on them. Psychotherapist Tina B. Tessina said kids get anxious when they watch their parents argue because it threatens the security of their home environment.
Child and adolescent psychologist Nancy Cahir said that if children consistently hear arguments and they don’t get resolved, they’ll have difficulty with attachment, adjustment, and trusting people.
The harmful effects are real but good things also happen when kids see you fight:
1. They will learn to recognize that being angry is okay
Richard Gallagher, director of the Parenting Institute at New York University’s Child Study Center, said that children need to recognize that “anger is a normal legitimate emotion” and that even happy couples like their parents can disagree.
It’s important that they see their parents show real emotions and don’t pretend that things are okay when it’s actually not. Note that it should be constructive fighting wherein parents maintain a respectful stance no matter how angry they are.
There should be no physicality or name calling involved. Physical violence can be emotionally damaging to a child’s well-being.
2. They see how conflicts can be resolved amicably
Good Morning America parenting contributor Ann Pleshette Murphy said if kids see that conflicts can be resolved constructively, they learn what it means to compromise, have compassion, and solve arguments.
They are also assured that disagreements with the people they love don’t mean it’s the end of their relationship with them.
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Children learn how to express their feelings properly and to not bottle them up.
3. They learn how to verbalize their feelings
Bottling up one’s emotions is a dangerous thing. Denver psychologist and family therapist Susan Heller said if children don’t learn to verbalize their true feelings they end up believing that conflicts cannot be resolved amicably and they’ll grow up suppressing their feelings. They should learn to freely express their emotions especially in their own home.
4. Their sense of security increases
If your kids see that you can overcome disagreements, it tells them that you have a strong marriage and a secure home. In the revolutionary parenting book, NurtureShock: New Thinking About Children by Po Bronson and Ashley Merryman, studies showed that kids who have seen disputes resolved with affection have an increased sense of security over the long term. It shows an improvement in their pro-social school behavior—the voluntary behavior intended to help others—as reported by their teachers.
5. Is there a way to fight nicely?
Yes! There is such a thing as a good fight and a bad fight. A bad fight involves violence, personal insults, verbal and non-verbal hostility, defensiveness, and stonewalling. A good fight involves resolution, compromise, expressing positive feelings and supportive statements, showing physical affection, making eye contact, and listening. You have the choice which one you will exhibit in front of your children.
Kids need to see that their parents are imperfect and they go through relationship obstacles but most importantly, that they do their best to reconcile their differences. As they grow up and experience conflicts within the family they will learn how to be compassionate, understanding, and forgiving to each other, just as their parents are.
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