By 14 months, infants remember and repeat actions they observe in adults, other children, and on television, as reported by research from the University of Washington. This becomes an imperative reason for parents to remain conscious about their role in their child’s development, which can include aspects that we might not realize our children notice — specifically, marriage.
Role model good communication and coping skills
As a parent, whether your marriage is healthy, working through minor disagreements, or leaning towards a divorce, it’s important to role model good communication and coping skills. When it comes to our spouse, how we communicate our feelings to them, as well as respond to theirs, can consequently affect how our children express their emotions.
A key aspect of emotional development in children is learning how to regulate emotions.
Children see how their parents display emotions and interact with other people, and they imitate what they see their parents do to regulate emotions.
By exemplifying good communication skills with your spouse, and practising good emotional self-regulation, you are providing the foundation for children to develop healthy communication habits that will help regulate how they manage their emotions.
Every marriage is susceptible to conflict
No parent is perfect, which means every marriage and household susceptible to conflict.
The important, however, is that homes with high levels of conflict lead to greater rates of emotional and social problems for children later in life, including depression and substance abuse.
If you notice that your child is struggling with their own thoughts and emotions, especially as a result of witnessing destructive marital conflict, provide them with resources to manage their mental health effectively.
“It’s how the conflict is expressed and resolved, and especially how it makes children feel that has important consequences for children,” claims E. Mark Cummings, author of Marital Conflict and Children: An Emotional Security Perspective.
When handled properly, conflict can have a positive impact on children because children see their parents resolve difficult problems. Adversely, if children are exposed to destructive conflicts such as insults, abandonment, violence, and even passive tactics like avoidance or withdrawing, it can make it difficult for them to learn how to correctly process and cope with negative emotions.
Here’s how parents can provide the best possible outcome for their children
Cummings suggests that its okay to let children overhear how people work things out, but know when certain conversations are best kept private.
Parents can be encouraged to be the best role models for effective communication by receiving help through therapists, books or support groups.
Children are active observers of their parents’ emotions and actions. When proper communication isn’t practised, children’s mental and emotional well-being can be damaged. It’s vital for parents to demonstrate healthy habits for their children to aid in their developmental growth.