Arguing in front of children, 10 things to know

In a perfect world, mum and dad always smile, eagerly await the time of meals to chat happily and, in every possible situation, they exchange 'sweet words' (with a bright look). Too bad that in reality this is not the case ...

1. The happy family 24 hours a day does not exist. So relax

In fact, the happy family in the Mulino Bianco style, 24 hours a day, just doesn't exist. Even the most close-knit couples happen to argue. A 'no' day, and a slightly heated verbal exchange can turn into a quarrel (the 'normal' ones, let's not think about extreme episodes and domestic violence).

2. However, you may want to put in a little more effort to manage anger

La anger management it is not so obvious even for the adult. Which, sometimes, 'turns on' and fails to put a stop to the emotions that overwhelm him. Let's face it: it's not much different from the outbursts of disappointment of a preschooler who, however, is asked to stop ...

Perhaps, the 'big' who struggles so much - or feels helpless - with his little one, should, instead, make an effort to recognize and contain his fits of anger.

3. If you are reading these tips, you do not like fighting in front of children

If a parent wonders whether it is wrong or not to argue in front of his child, in reality he has already given himself the answer. This is the premise of Anna Coppola De Vanna, psychologist and family psychotherapist (with Ilaria De Vanna, author of the book: Hear that screams! When parents quarrel, La Meridiana), interviewed by to understand the consequences of quarrels in front of children and how to fix it.

READ ALSO: Quarrels between brothers, forbidden to intervene

4. And indeed it would be better not to fight in front of the children

"Arguing in front of children, even when they are very young, should be avoided - says Anna Coppola De Vanna who has been dealing with family mediation and conflict management for years. But if that happens, we don't have to go and commit suicide!

Sometimes, parents blame themselves for everything and fear that the child will have a life-long trauma ... But that's not the case: the quarrel must be seen as something that can happen. If we are unable at the moment to be so ready and lucid as to avoid it, it is important, then, to recognize what has happened and run for cover with the children ”, says the psychotherapist.

What really matters is not to minimize the fact that the child has witnessed an unpleasant situation. “Adult behavior is also that of someone who makes a mistake and then fixes it. On the other hand, those who let it pass or argue that the episode did not matter is not ”.

5. But if it happens, no drama but reassure the child ...

According to Anna Coppola De Vanna, it is somehow 'legitimate' that every now and then a parent cannot shut up in front of a provocation, even when the child is nearby: it can happen to each of us. It is not equally so that the adult, then, does not reassure the child by apologizing to him.

The pretext 'he's so small, he doesn't understand!' he does not justify ignoring his son without comforting him about the quarrel he witnessed. In fact, in preschool age, he may not understand the contents well but he clearly 'grasps' that something is wrong between mom and dad.

6.… and make him understand that a fight can happen but then it passes

“I recommend taking a moment immediately after the fight to reassure the child. After the storm, it is essential to take him close and tell him: "Look, it can happen, mom and dad, however, they love you" - says Anna Coppola De Vanna.

It's important to comfort him that 'grownups' are a little weird at times. It is necessary to convey the idea that the quarrel is an accident, an event, something that 'passes' ... A bit like when you fall and peel your knee: it hurts, but then it passes ”.

READ ALSO: Quarrels between children, 9 tips for parents

7. Don't forget: even very young children feel tension

With a preschooler, the comfort is expressed in words, with the look and the cuddles. But if the involuntary witness to an argument is very small, doesn't it matter?

Actually, no, it does count. “Already before the year, the child feels the alteration of sounds and movements - says the expert - the tones of the voice, the parents' way of looking at each other, the frantic gestures of her hands. Maybe one of them touches the other, or throws his arm down impatiently ...

The life of every child is made up of rhythms, sounds, noises of the house, the screeching of a voice is a roar for him. Around the year, or even less, the little one can be frightened by a higher tone, but he does not fall into the world ".

For Anna Coppola De Vanna, however, it is essential to reassure him through non-verbal language. Just rock it, embrace it and convey to it, with your hands and voice, that what has happened is not destruction. The reassurance operation is always fundamental.

8. While it is true that a quarrel is not a tragedy, the child suffers from it

In an 'imperfect' family life, therefore, if the child is properly consoled, an argument is not the end of the world. But, at the same time, we must not underestimate the destabilizing effect that a quarrel between parents can have on him.

The child perceives mum and dad as a sort of 'colored container' that makes him feel like the child of that couple. “The box is the sum of the 'colors' and qualities of the two parents: the father, for example, is more playful and the mother a little more regulating - explains the psychotherapist. The sum of the characteristics of the parents has a reassuring function on the child.

If the parents quarrel, this 'container' that represents the child's emotional and relational space crumbles. And this causes the fear of feeling alone, because the container gives a sense of belonging to that family ”, explains the expert.

9. Try to keep relationship problems out of the children's ears

Of course, sometimes it is difficult to escape a quarrel, however, when the problems are related to the couple, they should be managed in a separate space: the bedroom, the living room ... In short, away from the eyes and ears of the children. . According to the psychotherapist, it is not good to put children in front of a situation that scares them, the conflict between adults should really take place elsewhere.

10. On education try to find a common solution

But even if at the center of the discussions there is the child's education, or topics that directly concern him, it is even worse to put him in a position to witness the mutual accusations of the parents. If mom A and dad B thinks about an educational action, they should discuss their respective positions on their own, reaching a solution. “For every child, the idea that there is a sort of 'parental alliance' on what concerns him is important,” says the psychotherapist.

In any case, if despite all the good intentions of the parents, the storm breaks out, it is always better, from the point of view of the expert, to give the children the closest expression to the truth. “We fight but then we make up. 'Don't worry, sometimes mom and dad can't do it.'

Parents should find words that caress, gentle and effective, like medicinal herbs that heal a wound ”, concludes Anna Coppola De Vanna.

Video: Arguing in front of children

In this video, Dr., Trainer, counselor and training manager of the CP, explains why we shouldn't argue in front of children

Read the insights on the psychology topic 3-6 years

Updated on 27.12.2022

  • psyche
  • 3-5 children years
  • quarrels children
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