Six-year-olds whose parents displayed frequent disagreements in their relationship responded to subsequent parental conflicts with elevated distress and negative thoughts, according to a team of researchers from the University of Rochester and the University of Notre Dame.
In the latest issue of the journal Child Development, the team reported examining 223 children twice during a one-year period for their reactions to conflicts between their parents. First, their mothers and fathers participated alone in an exercise in which they attempted to manage and resolve a common point of disagreement. The researchers rated the parents level of hostility or indifference to capture the characteristic ways that parents managed their conflicts. Then the children observed their parents working through two simulated telephone conversations: a short conflict and a resolution.
Researchers found that the ways parents managed conflicts in the exercise predicted how children responded to the simulated phone conflict—both within a two-week period and one year later. Parents who displayed high levels of discord had children who responded with greater than expected distress to the simulated phone conflict.
Jonathan Sherwood | EurekAlert!
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