Most parents feel like they need to monitor what they say and how they act in front of their children, especially when it comes to arguing.
Even though a recent study found that having children is one of the biggest passion-killers in a relationship, there’s always been the notion that you shouldn’t argue in front of the little ones, no matter how many disagreements may have been caused by them (or by the other half leaving dirty clothes next to instead of inside the washing basket!)
But now experts suggest that you may not have to hold yourselves bad quite as much as you might think.
A new study has found that it can be beneficial for parents to argue in front of children, as it is good for them to see a display of candid emotions.
Obviously swearing and rude name calling is not something they should be exposed to, according to researchers at Washington State University, but ‘healthy conflict’ can teach your children to express their own emotions.
By suppressing your emotions, you could be training your children to do the same.
‘Kids pick up on suppression’, said Sara Waters, assistant professor in Washington State University’s Department of Human Development. ‘But it’s something a lot of parents think is a good thing to do.’
Researchers looked at 109 parents and their children. They asked them to complete a task where they had to assemble LEGO, but only children were allowed to read the instructions and only parents were allowed to touch the LEGO.
They were hooked up to a variety of sensors to ascertain the results.
‘The act of trying to suppress their stress made parents less positive partners during the Lego task’, said Sara. ‘They offered less guidance, but it wasn’t just the parents who responded. Those kids were less responsive and positive to their parents. It’s almost like the parents were transmitting those emotions.’
The scientists found that when something negative has happened but parents are acting normal, the two conflicting emotions can be confusing for children.
‘Let them see the whole trajectory’, she said. ‘That helps kids learn to regulate their own emotions and solve problems. They see that problems can get resolved. It’s best to let the kids know you feel angry, and tell them what you’re going to do about it to make the situation better.’
Though it may still be best to leave out any f words, obviously…
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