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Do You Hear What Your Child Hears?

Recently my husband and I were having a disagreement that escalated into a rather loud discussion. Our grandson, who was in the other room, came running in and told us to stop fighting. We wanted to assure him we weren't fighting--we were just talking loud.

At that moment, I started thinking about this four-year-old's interpretation of what he heard. To him, it sounded like we were fighting even though there was no physical violence involved. He equated fighting with talking loud.

I think sometimes we, as adults, tend to forget that our children are within earshot of we are saying. Or we think the children are too young to understand the content of the argument while neglecting to realize that it's the negative tone of the conversation that kids pick up on. Kids do as we do and not as we say, though we often wish the opposite was true. If they see us resolving disputes with petty arguing, they are going to learn the same tactic.

Psychologist Dr. Kenneth Condrell says when adults are constantly arguing at home, children may respond in the following ways. They may:

•take their anger out on other adults, such as teachers, and have behavior problems in school
•lose respect for their parents’ authority and stop listening to them
•become depressed with thoughts of running away or of suicide
•mistreat their brothers and sisters in ways that are nasty and cruel

We want our grandson to grow up in a happy and healthy environment so we have vowed not to raise our voices in front of him.

Said the little child to his (grand)parents...do you hear what I hear?

Comments

Pat Montgomery said…
Bev, great topic. And timely for me. My guest next week has a book that is full of studies on children called NurtureShock. In it, they state that the evidence shows that kids who hear arguments, but also hear the resolution and make up will not have ill effects from the argument/discussions. Interesting stuff.

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