Laura Markhap, Ph.D, reported that neurological research indicates that when children hear yelling, their stress hormones shoot up. In fact, even a sleeping infant registers loud, angry voices and experiences a rush of stress chemicals that takes some time to diminish. This biophysical reaction to stress can impact your child’s developmental growth both psychologically and physically.
From your child’s perspective, you, as their parent, are the center of their universe. When an argument between you and your spouse quickly disintegrates into an abusive yelling match, then your child’s world can become a scary one. Developmentally, your child may become anxious, prone to depression, develop low self-esteem or grow into a fearful adult.
When mom and dad argue, oftentimes, the child feels responsible and that it’s their fault.
For example, if the child failed to finish their homework, or clear the dishes after dinner and later in the evening mom and dad start squabbling, the child internalizes it and feels guilty. Ultimately, this can lead to a lifelong pattern of feeling negative emotions such as guilt, shame and self-hatred.
When parents argue, kids have nowhere to go. In the heat of the battle, the parents are locked into each other consumed by their own emotions of resentment, miscommunication, being disrespected or unheard. It’s at this same moment, that the child needs their parents the most!
By fighting with each other, the parents are emotionally unavailable to their child. Therefore, your child learns to stuff their own emotions, only to have them surface later as negative behaviors, such as anger, lying or fighting. Over time, your child might cope by withdrawing and isolating which manifests in a lack of trust and an inability to have successful intimate relationships as an adult!
At the Mediation and Family Counseling Group/ Cooperative Counseling we are skilled professions who have experience in working with families and build stronger, healthier homes.