How Parents Fighting Could Affect A Child’s Mental Health?

The family setting is where children learn about themselves and the world around them. Unfortunately, not all family settings are conducive to positive mental health outcomes. One of the most common stressors in the family environment is parental conflict.

Parental conflict refers to any disagreements, arguments, or fights between parents that cause tension and stress in the household. These conflicts can occur in many forms, including verbal disputes, physical altercations, or even silent treatments. Regardless of the state, the impact of parental conflict on children’s mental health can be significant and long-lasting.

A child exposed to parental conflict may experience negative effects that can persist into adulthood. They are affecting their relationships, academic performance, and overall health. Parents need to recognize the impact of their conflicts on their children and seek help from a professional. Counseling or therapy can reduce the negative effects on their children’s mental health.

Why Parents Fighting Is A Problem? 

When I was a child, my parents sometimes fought because my father came home drunk. I used to be anxious and stressed because of my parent’s arguments. It made me sad for days to see my parents not being on good terms. They paid less attention to me and would contemplate each other every time I tried to talk to them.

Parental conflict can hurt a child’s development and emotional well-being when they fight in front of them. Many factors can contribute to parental conflicts, such as financial stress, different parenting styles, or simply not getting along. Parents constantly fighting can take a toll on the whole family. The following are some of the ways that parental conflict can affect a child:

1. It can cause them to feel anxious and stressed. 

2. It can disrupt their sleep patterns.

3. It can make them feel like they have to choose sides between their parents.

4. It can lead to behavioral problems at school or home.

5. It can damage their self-esteem and make them feel worthless or unloved.

Every child would find it unpleasant to witness their parents fighting. In a family, when parents fight, it affects their marriage and family relationships. Their child is the most affected by the fight. Their parent’s struggle could negatively impact their child’s development.

Effects of parent’s fights include: hurting the children psychologically, causing stress, anxiety, and other mental health-related problems. Physical fights, insults, and techniques like “the silent treatment” are toxic interactions parents can have with their kids that could eventually cause them emotional harm.

Parents often displace their anger, tension, and anxiety on their children as a form of physical violence. Some forms of physical violence are beating and physical aggression like hitting and pushing. Children may develop physical health problems, such as headaches, stomachaches, and sleep disturbances, due to the stress and anxiety caused by parental conflict. 

How Can Parents Fighting Affect Children’s Mental Health?

A 2012 research examining parental disagreement’s impact on kids in kindergarten through seventh grade was published in Child Development. Participants were from 235 middle-class households in the northeast and the midwest of the country.

The parents were questioned about the level of friction in their marriage when their kids were in kindergarten. Researchers then encouraged them to discuss a challenging subject, like money and observed the couples’ levels of criticism of one another.

Researchers followed up with the family even years afterward. They questioned Parents and children about marital conflict and the children’s emotional and behavioral well-being. By the time they reached seventh grade, kindergarteners whose parents often and cruelly argued were more likely to have behavioral problems, despair, and anxiety.

Children may also have other problems if their parents quarrel frequently. Following are some studies’ findings on parental arguing’s impact on children.

Long-term effects on Child’s Mental Health

Psychological trauma a child’s face can have a vertiginous impact on them. It can severely impair them emotionally, physically, and sexually. Losing a parent or experiencing domestic abuse can scarring effects.

Parental conflict can hurt a child’s development and emotional well-being. When parents are constantly fighting, it can create a stressful and chaotic home environment. This can lead to behavioral problems, anxiety, and depression in children.

Parental conflict can also interfere with a child’s ability to form attachments and develop healthy relationships. Children who witness their parents fighting are more likely to have difficulty trusting and forming close bonds with others. They may also have trouble communicating their own needs and feelings.

1. Emotional distress

Children can experience intense emotions, such as fear, sadness, anger, and helplessness when they witness their parents fighting. They may also feel responsible for the conflict and blame themselves for it.

2. Stress

Studies show that the stress hormone cortisol level spikes high in children who witness parents fighting. 

Even though kids might not completely understand what the adults around them argue about, they can still feel powerless due to being unable to solve the problem themselves and prone to significant stress levels. 

This can also come with feelings such as distress, insecurity, or helplessness since parents usually represent safety nets for their little ones. Hence, whenever they express hostility towards each other, they doubt if they have support from mommy/daddy anymore.

3. Anxiety 

Children exposed to parental conflict may develop anxiety and worry about their parent’s well-being or the stability of their family.

4. Behavioral problems 

One common effect of chronic parental arguing is increased anxiety in children, which often manifests through physical symptoms (like changes to sleeping habits) or behavioral issues like aggression or social withdrawal.

5. Low self-esteem

Consistently witnessing fights between caregivers may lead children to develop shallow perspectives regarding relations among peers at school age because nobody should “not believe enough” in those essential relationships provided by parents who use disputes instead of love & acceptance.

Related: 5 Mental Disorders Among Children, Diagnosis & Treatment

6. Higher Risk of Academic Problems

Children who experience parental conflict may have difficulty concentrating and focusing on their schoolwork, leading to poor academic performance. They tend to overthink the situation and often find themselves guilty. 

Children preoccupied with their parents’ fighting may have difficulty concentrating in school, which could lead to poor academic performance. It can lead to a range of adverse outcomes, such as lower self-esteem, reduced opportunities for success, and difficulty in the job market.

I did not feel like studying when I went to school, watching my parents fight. I could not concentrate on the teacher’s teaching, which made me fail my exams. My parents occasionally got calls from the school, complaining about my academic performance.

7. Substance Abuse

Children are more likely to seek solace in drugs when they do not get it from their loved ones. However, it depends on the parents and their parents as well. 

When parents are avoidant and ignorant, children tend to rebel and have bad influences from peers and start smoking, drinking, and taking drugs, leading to addiction and health issues.

8. Relationship Issues

Children who grow up in households with a lot of conflict between their parents may struggle to form healthy relationships with others later in life. They may have difficulty trusting others or feel insecure in their relationships. This can lead to adverse outcomes, such as social isolation, difficulty maintaining relationships, and poor mental health.

9. When fighting becomes problematic

Unfortunately, because this issue is often hidden from outsiders or minimized by family members, there isn’t enough discussion about preventing these negative repercussions when possible.

Fighting becomes problematic when parents can’t stand each other and start living separately, seeking a divorce. It disturbs the peace and harmony of what once was a happy home. It hurts families and harms societal norms of marriage. Children see their parents as role models. 

How to make Conflict Work?

According to Experts, kids are happier after seeing a conflict between their parents and how they resolve it. “It reassures children that parents can resolve issues. We can tell kids feel this because of their actions, words, and behavior—they go off and play.

In addition to having more significant internal resources for good developmental growth and displaying more pro-social behavior, children also enjoy emotional safety. Rather than concentrating on the child or the parent-child connection, many behavioral difficulties in children are solved by improving the relationship between the parents and boosting children’s emotional stability. Positive conflict is associated with better outcomes over time.

When it comes to their children, most parents have the greatest of intentions. However, with practical conflict resolution techniques, excellent senses can handle the reality of emotion-driven conduct when arguments heat up. Some strategies to make conflict work are : 

1. Respectfully communicating with each other means no yelling or name-calling. Instead, try to have calm conversations where you both listen to each other and express your feelings without attacking the other person.

2. Avoid power struggles: If you find yourselves constantly arguing over who has the final say in decisions, it may be helpful to take a step back and look at the bigger picture. Sometimes it’s better to let go of your need to be suitable to maintain peace in the home. What is more important: getting your way or having a happy family?

3. Seeking professional help: If you’re struggling to resolve your differences, seeking counseling or therapy from a neutral third party may be helpful. This can provide you with tools and techniques for communicating effectively and healthily resolving conflict.

4. Get legal help: You can always protect yourself with the help of the law if you cannot protect yourself and your children from a partner who does not respect the boundaries of everyday interactions. And getting divorced should be your first move.

Here are 5 Tips to Get Divorced from an Abusive Spouse. Look into the blog to learn how to get a divorce from an abusive partner to protect yourself and your children.


Even though witnessing disagreements or verbal conflicts within a family could cause stress, not only emotional but also physical, it doesn’t mean that parents always need to remain calm. It is necessary to be aware of How Parents Fighting Could Affect a Child’s Mental Health is essential.

A nonviolent resolution is the best to stop abusive patterns from continuing indefinitely. Parents should be willing to take a few proactive steps, resulting in a stable, enriching environment where everyone feels safe and secure. Regardless of any little arguments or small instances of minor differences, every member should feel equally heard, appreciated, and recognized.

Adults can prevent sensitive topics that might provoke disruptive fights in the future by educating youngsters and teaching them coping mechanisms. 

They can use healthy coping mechanisms to keep up caring, supportive relationships if given a holistic approach through qualified, age-appropriate therapeutic programs, which will enhance the home environment and advance the long-term psychological well-being of all family members.

Family members with chronic stress should develop better communication channels to resolve disputes, improve peace and respect among family members, help society, and benefit themselves instead of only focusing on obtaining rounded, cookie-cutter objectives. Our willpower, possessive nature, and occupants in human shells are ultimately accountable for conscious decision-making.

Post by Contributor
Reviewed and Checked by Worldlistmania Editor