Parental conflicts affect children’s mental health and can do lasting damages. Alice Schermerhorn, an assistant professor in the University of Vermont’s Department of Psychological Sciences said that according to the research even low-level adversity like parental conflict isn’t good for children.
99 children were divided into two groups based on a series of psychological assessments which was based on how much parental conflict they experienced. Couple Photographs (happy, sad and neutral) were shown to children and they were asked to choose which category the photos fit.
- Children from the low conflict homes consistently scored the photos accurately.
- Children from high conflict homes who experienced the conflict as a threat were able to accurately identify the happy and angry couples, but not those in neutral poses.
Alice further added: “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. 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.”