Study shows that children who have parents that argue frequently are more vigilant in spotting anger in people compared to children in low-conflict homes.The study was published in the Journal of Family Psychology.
Researchers studied a number of families and, by asking mothers to fill out questionnaires, were labeled as either high-conflict or low-conflict. The study then looked at the brain activity of the children of the families when they were asked to look at photos of couples with different emotions – angry, happy and neutral.
Children in high-conflict homes had a greater response to the angry photos than those in low-conflict homes. Their brains registered higher P-3. This is associated with the brain’s ability to focus and give meaning to stimuli, which in this case were the photos of angry couples.
“They’re being watchful in the home in the same way that they’re watching for angry faces in the research setting,” said co-author Alice Schermerhorn, assistant professor in The University of Vermont’s Department of Psychological Science.
The P-3 signal from children in high-conflict homes was also much higher when they were asked to identify angry couples among a group of happy faces.
“The pattern suggests children from high-conflict homes, by training their brains to be vigilant, process signs of interpersonal emotion, either anger or happiness, differently than children from low conflict homes,” said Schermerhorn in a press release.
Further research is being done by Schermerhorn and her colleagues to find a link between higher P-3 amplitudes and child behavior.
Arguments, however, are unavoidable. Conflicts are bound to arise. In a healthy relationship, conflicts can help you better understand your partner. But make sure to resolve your conflict before things get ugly. Here are 3 tips to help you out:
1. Listen ... not only with your ears, but also consider body language and facial expressions. Not everyone is gifted with the skill of verbalizing their feelings, so it helps to know your partner well to determine what else is not being said. Do not assume, though that you know everything. If in doubt, clarify.
2. Be open to resolutions. Rather than imposing, ask your partner, “How do you suggest we solve this?” Your soliciting attitude will break down his defenses and open communication lines, allowing you both to work on a real solution.
3. Call for a timeout. If all else fails and things get too heated, call for a truce. Anger can compound a problem severely and won’t get the discussion anywhere. What you want is to get to the root of the problem, not find someone to blame. Have a moment to reflect on the real issue, what triggered the spat, and if it’s even worth fighting over. Oftentimes, you’ll be surprised, it’s not.