As parents, sometimes we argue with each other. We all know that’s a fact of marriage. However, a fight every once in awhile is very different than having an argument every day. That sends a message to your children–and it’s not a good one. Consequently, recent studies have been showing that parental conflict can be linked to emotional issues in teens.
Watching your parents fight a lot leads to emotional issues in teens
In the study published in the Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, researchers looked into the effects of a child regularly seeing their parents fight. The results showed higher levels of anxiety, fear, and even misreading neutral human interactions. Findings also suggested that naturally sensitive or shy children had worse outcomes.
The study included almost 100 children, ages 9 to 11. Researchers split them into two groups depending on previous psych tests focusing on parental conflict. Then, the two groups looked at various photos depicting couples that expressed happy, neutral, or angry interactions–then they had to place them into one of those categories.
Children who got placed into the “low-conflict home” category mainly categorized the photos correctly; however, children in “high-conflict homes” were not able to categorize the neutral photos accurately at all.
Lead author of the study, Dr. Alice Schermerhorn, explained why they may have gotten this result:
“If their perception of conflict and threat leads children to be vigilant for signs of trouble, that could lead them to interpret neutral expressions as angry ones or may simply present greater processing challenges.
Basically, they may be more tuned into angry interactions, which could be a cue for them to retreat to their room, or happy ones, which could signal that their parents are available to them. Neutral interactions don’t offer much information, so they may not value them or learn to recognize them.”
Mitigating conflict and arguing the ‘right way’
For children in high-conflict homes, neutral expressions may not be important, but in day-to-day life they are. Peers, teachers, co-workers, romantic partners–you have to understand neutral expressions to have healthy relationships with these people.
This is why mitigating conflict isn’t just important, it’s necessary for your child’s health. No conflict is simply unrealistic, but as parents we can work to have arguments the “right way.” When I say that, I mean trying to argue in a constructive way–not just getting into a screaming match. You owe it to your daughter.
If you believe your daughter struggles with emotional issues in teens, reach out to a professional for guidance
Solstice East helps with emotional issues in teens
Solstice East is a residential treatment center for girls, ages 14 to 18. We understand the specific needs of girls, which is why our program is centered solely on them. We offer our students help for anxiety, depression, emotional issues in teens, trauma, ADHD, and other emotional or behavioral problems.
At Solstice, we have a strong emphasis on family therapy, nutrition, physical fitness. Also, we offer a supportive staff, cutting-edge academics, addiction therapy, equine therapy, and psychiatric services. At Solstice, we help set the stage for the infusion of light into the previously darkened lives of the families we serve.
For more information about how we help with emotional issues in teens at Solstice East, please contact us at 828-484-9946.