How to Handle Arguments in Front of Children

Children tend to feel guilt or responsibility for the things that go on around them. Therefore, respect and tolerance should come first when parents have an argument in front of children.
How to Handle Arguments in Front of Children
María Alejandra Castro Arbeláez

Reviewed and approved by the psychologist María Alejandra Castro Arbeláez.

Last update: 27 December, 2022

In any interpersonal relationship, there are bound to be disagreements about how to deal with certain situations. While this is inevitable, it’s fundamental that parents learn to handle arguments in the right way. If not, the conflict may worsen and affect the entire family negatively.

So, perhaps you’re wondering just how to handle arguments with your partner when your children are around. In the following article you’ll find suggestions about how to deal with differences of opinion and disagreements between parents.

Applying these tips will help prevent arguments between you and your spouse from affecting your children emotionally.

Tips for knowing how to handle arguments in front of children

1. Remember to be empathetic

Open the dialogue by expressing respect towards your partner. Recognize that your partner’s perceptions and emotions are completely valid, even though you disagree in this case. Putting yourself in your partner’s shoes and recognizing him or her as a person is always a positive gesture .

2. Give your partner the benefit of the doubt

In any argument, assume that none of the involved have bad intentions. Even during moments when things get uncomfortable or hostile, it’s important to seek balance. While you have different opinions, you should still treat each other with love and respect .

How to Handle Arguments in Front of Children

3. Keep in mind that you and your partner are on the same team

Even when you don’t agree, it’s important to remember that you’re both looking for a good solution. If there’s a problem to solve, put all the cards on the table and search together for the best solution. Avoid allowing your differences to divide you and put you at odds with one another.

4. Express yourself positively

Criticizing, judging and hurting your partner will only produce more differences and make things worse. The best example you can give your children is to show respect and tolerance, even in adverse situations. Each disagreement that arises should be a tool to improve in the future and not make the same mistakes.

“Frequent, unresolved fighting chips away at the confidence, triggering sadness, anxiety, and fear in children of all ages. On the other hand, children do learn positive lessons from parents’ arguments. Kids need to know that even happy couples can disagree and that anger is a normal legitimate emotion.”
–Richard Gallagher–

Other important recommendations about handling arguments in front of children

  • Parents‘ disagreements should stay between parents, without involving children. Parents should never pressure their children to act as witnesses or take sides. Look for a moment of privacy to make any necessary clarifications.
  • If, for any reason, an argument gets heated in front of your kids, ask them for forgiveness once you’re calm. Explain to your children that they aren’t to blame for what happened.
  • Write down your thoughts and emotions before expressing them to your partner. This will provide you with a more objective and clear vision of what is producing the disagreement.
  • When disagreements are frequent or tend to turn into conflicts, then it’s time to seek professional help. In many cases, the help of a third party is necessary to restore the family and turn the situation back to normal. It may also help you both learn to better handle arguments in front of your children.

In what ways can aggressive arguments in front of children affect them?

  • Children become tense, afraid, anxious and unprotected during these situations. Remember that the home should be your child’s greatest source of care, protection and love.
  • Feelings of guilt. If the child believes that he or she is the reason that mom and dad are arguing, feelings of guilt are inevitable.
How to Handle Arguments in Front of Children
 Low self-esteem. The combination of insecurity and guilt that children experience make them feel worthless and invisible. It’s important that children know how important they are for their families.
  • Stress. Children and teens often feel they must take sides in parental conflicts and this causes them stress.
  • Deformed image of parents. Children absorb everything they see in their homes. If what they see at home is two aggressive adults who can’t express themselves without hurting each other, the child will imitate this example.

Being a parent demands self-control, good judgement and good communication. It’s fundamental that parents demonstrate with their attitudes that the family unit is solid. 

Every family has its disagreements, but handling your differences in a constructive way is possible. Learn to handle your arguments in a healthy way, especially in front of your kids.

All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.

  • Ramírez, M. A. (2005). Padres y desarrollo de los hijos: prácticas de crianza. Estudios pedagógicos (Valdivia), 31(2), 167-177.
  • Kitzmann, K. (2010). La violencia doméstica y su impacto en el desarrollo social y emocional de los niños pequeños. Enciclopedia sobre el desarrollo de la primera infancia, 1-6.
  • Ferreiro, M. L. P., Santos, E. J., & Ferreira, J. A. (2007). Afecto parental y conducta de los hijos en situaciones de discusiones cotidianas. Psychologica, (46), 167-195.

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.