Shrinks Say: 20 Signs Toddler Is Affected By Parents' Relationship

Everyone knows that the relationship between parents can deeply affect the child and influence what kind of person they grow up to become. And while a happy, caring and loving environment is ideal for bringing up a child, it is also very unrealistic, at least in the 24/7 sense.

Parents are only human after all, and the daily stress and responsibilities can strain the relationship between them. Sometimes this results in rare and solvable arguments, but sometimes it can get to a point where the arguments are daily, loud, and could result in a split. And while all of this is only human, it also heavily affects the child, and no parent wants their child to negatively affected because of them. But in situations like those, children do experience negative side effects, and they show that in lots different ways.

While it's not always easy to see that a child is negatively affected by something, once the parents do realize it, they should definitely do their best to change how their relationship is affecting their child, because scars from that tend to be deep and last the child's whole life.

So here are 20 common signs that a child is being affected by their parent's relationship.

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20 The Child Worries A Lot

Anxiety is a common sign the child is heavily affected by the parents' bad relationship. Toddlers are too young to understand why things don't work out sometimes, and why parents argue, they just want the family to always be happy. And when the parents aren't it can cause the child to worry a lot, and this can potentially lead to them developing severe anxiety once they get older. This is why it's important for parents to always consider their child, and make sure the child understands the situation, but also doesn't witness any big fights, as those can cause a lot of harm to the child's mental health.

19 And They Start Doing Things To Cut Off Their Emotions

The easiest way for anyone to cut their emotions off is to keep busy. And toddlers are no exception. So if a parents' bad relationship affects their feelings, and no doubt it does, they generally try to block and suppress those feelings by always doing something. While young kids generally tend to be very active, kids who are dealing with tough emotions are even more active. Being active and busy playing with toys generally isn't really a bad sign or red flag but parents often don't even realize how their children are actually feeling and what they are going through.

18 The Children Blame Themselves

Because young kids aren't able to understand why their parents are arguing, since they aren't aware yet of how complicated the human relationships can be, they generally tend to find reason within themselves. This means that the child ends up feeling guilty for whatever their parents are going through, and it tends to blame themselves. If a child hears its parents arguing, it easily draws the conclusion that it must be because they spilled their breakfast or broke a new toy. As ridiculous as this seems to a grown up, a child tends to often process things this way.

17 And They Are Insecure And Have Low Self-Esteem

Because a child in this situation ends up feeling anxious and guilty, it only makes sense that they, as a result of that, also feel very insecure and has low self-esteem. Now while it can happen that children go through phases of feeling insecure anyways, regardless of their parents' relationship, chances are that if that relationship is difficult, the child's insecurity tends to last way longer. While there should be no stress in parents' having to deal with their own relationship, there definitely is if the way they deal with it affects the child badly. No parents, no matter what their differences are, want their child to grow up feeling insecure.

16 The Child Feels Invisible

Along with everything else mentioned above, children whose parents have a bad relationship often feel invisible. Parents sometimes get so wrapped up in their arguments that they don't pay enough attention the their child, and children, especially young ones, naturally need their parents to be there for them. So no matter how angry with each other the parents are, there is always a time and place to discuss things, and their first priority should be their child. At the end of the day, feeling invisible at any age isn't nice, but feeling it as a child is a huge letdown on the parents' part.

15 The Child Prefers Being Alone

Now while the child may feel invisible and it may crave attention, it also tends to contradict that by wanting to be alone. This is the child's way of protesting the situation, and trying to remove themselves from it.

While parents should give the child some space if necessary, they do need to make sure the child knows it's not invisible and will always have their parents' attention, regardless of what the parents' may be going through.

However, if a child asks to be alone a lot, parents definitely need to realize something is affecting the child in a bad way.

14 They Start Showing Feelings Indirectly

It's hard for children to talk about their feelings, especially because they so often don't even understand them. Which is why children who are dealing with anxiety, feeling invisible or guilty express those feelings in a seemingly unrelated manner: they throw tantrums. They burst out crying, yelling, throw themselves on the floor in supermarkets etc. And while it is so easy to try to school the child by punishing them, this definitely wont solve the underlaying problem: the kid is dealing with emotional stress for some reason, and they need help, because it doesn't know how to ask for it. Parents should look at tantrums as a kids way of crying for help.

13 And They Lose Temper Easily

Now while throwing tantrums is one thing, it shouldn't be confused with losing temper. Kids affected by their parents relationship often feel very exhausted because they go through these emotional rollercoasters they don't even understand fully or know how to deal with. So naturally, they become easily irritable, any grown up would as well. This means they lose temper easily, they can become mean, and often say and do things they don't really mean to.

Again, instead of punishing them, parents should sit down with them and try to get to the bottom of the situation. And of course, if necessary, getting professional help is always good.

12 The Child Doesn't Talk Much

Via: citi.io

Studies have shown that children who grow up in a family where parents have a bad relationship tend to develop speech at a later stage than usual. The main reason for this is that the kids don't get enough attention, and their parents don't talk to them nearly as much as they should, simply because the parents are themselves dealing with their own relationship, so they tend to do the bare minimum. A child should never have delayed development just because the parent's can't work their own problems out or put them aside.

11 And They Tend To Argue With Other Children

The majority of things toddlers learn are from their parents. So, if the parents argue and fight a lot, the child tends to pick that kind of behavior up, and imitate it. This means the child ends up picking fights and arguments with their peers, and no parent wants that.

So if their child is arguing a lot, maybe the parents should step back for a second and wonder where the kid picked that kind of behavior up.

Is it from the household or somewhere else. Because if it's from them, then they can't really blame the kid, but blame themselves.

10 The Child Craves Attention

If their child is an attention-seeker, parents should try and realize why? Chances are it's because the child actually doesn't get enough attention from them, especially if the parents are too occupied with their own relationship and emotional state. Now, no one said parenting would be easy, and of course there is no guide book, but a child should never have to seek attention from a parent, the attention should always be there. Giving their child attention should never be neglected, no matter what the parents' relationship is going through.

9 They Feel Like They Always Needs To Pick A Side

Via: buzzle.com

A common issue kids whose parents often argue or are separating have to deal with, is the feeling of having to choose a side. And while they obviously don't have to, they need to be reminded of this very often. Because feeling that way is a very heavy burden for a young child to carry. This is why parents need to make sure that no matter what they are going through, the child will never have to choose one over the other, and that both will always be there for it. The child needs to be reminded of this a lot.

8 The Child Doesn't Want To Spend Time With Their Parents

Sometimes children whose parents have a struggling relationship want to be completely alone. But sometimes they don't want to be alone, but they just don't want to spend time around their parents. And who can blame them? No one would want to spend time around two people who bicker and fight.

Obviously, the best way to deal with this is for the parents to put their differences aside and treat each other as humans in front of the child, shifting the focus from their own issues onto the child's needs.

And while this isn't always easy, it is definitely the only right thing to do.

7 The Child Doesn't Know How To Solve Problems

Children whose parents argue and fight without coming to solution tend to not be the best problem solvers. This is an obvious reflection of how their parents dealt with problems in front of them, and this can show in little things such as solving puzzles as a toddler, to dealing with one's own relationships as a grown up. Kids are sponges, and if they see that their parents aren't really working towards a solution, they will subconsciously accept that not solving problems is fine. And this is an enormous affect the parent's relationship can have on the child's whole life.

6 The Child Is Easily Startled

Via: cnn.com

If a child is easily scared, there is as reason for why they are that way. Chances are the parents arguments are bit more heated and potentially even physical, and those can have a huge impact on how safe the child feels. Which makes them super cautious and easily triggered by loud sounds and yelling. The startled child isn't able to use their full potential, they miss out on things and they definitely end up feeling a lot of consequences of this as a grown up. If the kid is getting jumpy, parents need to either ask for help or finally figure things out.

5 The Child Can Have Increased Heart Rates And Stress Hormone Responses


Besides all the emotional distress a parents' bad relationship can cause the child, there's plenty of medical issues it can also create. The most common ones are the increase of the child's heart rate as well as stress hormone responses. It is very obvious that if a parents relationship is affecting a child's health negatively, things need to be changed because no child deserves to worry about that.

A child's physical and mental health should always be the parents' number one priority, and nothing they do should ever affect it in a negative way.

If caught on early, these medical issues can be dealt with, but if not they can cause harm to the child once they grow up.

4 They Don't Sleep Well

Stress, anxiety and guilt all lead to poor sleep. On top of that, if the parents' loud arguments happen at night, it is no surprise the child can't sleep well. Sleep is one of the most important and most underrated parts of being healthy, especially for children that are still growing and developing.

So if the child struggles to fall asleep, wakes up often and in turn is tired a lot, parents definitely need to change things up and make sure the child is relaxed enough to get a healthy and good amount of sleep every single night.

3 And Have Difficulty Focusing

Via: gov.au

Children lose focus for plenty of reasons, but one of them can be the bad influence their parents' relationship has on them. This can be due to lack of sleep, anxiety or the fact that they keep thinking about their parents' argument a lot. Either way, being able to focus is crucial, and even toddlers should be able to do it in order to prepare for school. So no parent should take this lightly, and there is no stress in consulting a professional to see how to improve a child's focus and what the reasons for what the lack of it could be.

2 They Might Start Faking Feeling Sick

Remember how we mentioned that children whose parents argue and fight tend to feel invisible and they often seek more attention? Yeah, well a common way they do this is by faking feeling sick. And it isn't really surprising, as parents tend to drop everything and give their full attention to the child if its sick. Now obviously, a parents should never assume the child is lying, and should always check if the child needs a doctors attention, but if they suspect a child is faking their sickness, the parents definitely need to figure out whether the reason for that are they.

1 The Child Cries Often

Last but not least, is the fact that the child cries a lot. And yeah, it is normal for young children to cry, and they do generally cry a lot, but most of the time one can find a reason for it. However, if there seems to be no obvious reason for why the child is easily irritable and bursts out in tears, it can be assumed that the kid is dealing with a lot of emotions they shouldn't be dealing with. And if it just so happens that the parents are also having a bad relationship, well then the reason for the child's crying outbursts is quite obvious.

Sources: bbc.comdevelopmentalscience.comifstudies.org, parenting.firstcry.compsychologytoday.comtelegraph.co.uk

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