14/08/2014 16:57 BST | Updated 20/05/2015 10:12 BST

Bickering Parents Risk Their Children's Health, Charity Warns

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Family argument

Bickering parents are putting their children at risk of long-term mental health issues, experts have warned.

Kids who see their mums and dads constantly at each other's throats also suffer from headaches, stomach pains and even stunted growth.

Research by relationship charity OnePlusOne said 'destructive' conflict – including sulking, walking away or slamming doors – causes a range of social, emotional and behavioural difficulties in children.

Study co-author Dr Catherine Houlston said: "We know conflict is a normal and necessary part of family life. It's not whether you argue but how you argue that matters most to kids.

"Research suggests that, over time, the impact of being exposed to arguing between their parents can put children's physical health at risk."

The study examined the differences between destructive and constructive conflict and their effect on children.

It showed they reacted better when parents related to each other more positively when quarrelling and when they managed to resolve disputes.

But Dr Houlston said: "Not all arguing has a negative outcome. If a child sees his or her parents in conflict, then work things out, they understand it's possible for difficult situations to be resolved and they feel more secure."

She added that working with couples at an early stage could help modify destructive patterns of behaviour.

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