Parental conflict - Better Lives Healthy Futures

Parental conflict

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Parental conflict can have negative and long-lasting effects on children.

Children can usually cope with and adapt to difficult situations such as separation and divorce, but bitter, unresolved, hostile conflicts can severely damage a child emotionally. The longer the conflict continues the greater the negative impact on a child’s mental health.

Conflict brings tension, chaos, disruption and unpredictability. Children feel anxious, frightened or helpless, rather than safe and secure. They worry about taking sides and often feel responsible for the fighting. This leads both to emotional distress and feelings of guilt.

Shielding children from hostile interactions and modelling mature, respectful communications will mean your child is less likely to become argumentative and untrusting later in life.

If your relationship is in conflict, please see the links in the further information section for ways to help yourself and your children, including how and where to seek professional support if necessary.

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Anxiety

Children can sometimes experience anxiety just like adults.
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Resilience

Resilience is important if children are to thrive and achieve. It means they can problem solve, make the most of opportunities and cope when things get tough.
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Mental health – 5-11s

Ups and downs are part of life and as a parent you can help your child feel ready to cope with life’s challenges.
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Further information

How arguments affect children

Relate's website has helpful information on how parental conflict can affect children and how as parents you can work together to mitigate this.

Chronic parental conflict

This useful article examines what parental conflict is, how it affects kids and what you can do about it.

Divorce, separation and shared parenting

The Family Lives website offers advice on divorce, separation and shared parenting, as well as live online chat and a confidential helpline.