Impacts of Fighting on Children |

Impacts of Fighting on Children

Children who witness violence are affected similarly to children who are actually being physically abused. They are often unable to establish nurturing bonds with either of their parents. According to Mind Springs Health, they may exhibit emotional, behavioral, social and physical symptoms as a result.


  • Grief for family and personal losses
  • Shame, guilt and self-blame
  • Confusion about conflicting feelings toward parents
  • Fear of abandonment, or expressing emotions, the unknown or personal injury
  • Anger
  • Depression and feelings of helplessness and powerlessness
  • Embarrassment


  •  Acting out or withdrawing
  • Aggressive or passive
  • Refusing to go to school
  • Care taking; acting as a parent substitute
  • Lying to avoid confrontation
  • Rigid defenses
  • Excessive attention seeking
  • Bed-wetting and nightmares
  • Out of control behavior
  • Reduced intellectual competency
  • Manipulation, dependency, mood swings


  •  Isolation from friends and relatives
  • Stormy relationships
  • Difficulty in trusting, especially adults
  • Poor anger management and problem solving skills
  • Excessive social involvement to avoid being at home
  • Passivity with peers or bullying
  • Engaged in exploitative relationships as a perpetrator or victim


  •  Somatic complaints, headaches and stomachaches
  • Nervous, anxious, short attention span
  • Tired and lethargic
  • Frequently ill
  • Poor personal hygiene
  • Regression in development
  • High risk play
  • Self-abuse 

Click here to review the developmental impact of unhealthy fighting on children by age.

Adverse Childhood Experiences

A large body of research has shown that some of the worst health and social problems in our nation can arise from adverse childhood experiences. The Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE) Study is one of the largest investigations ever conducted to assess associations between childhood maltreatment and later-life health and well-being as illustrated below:



To gather this data more than 17,000 Health Maintenance Organization (HMO) members undergoing a comprehensive physical exam chose to provide detailed information about their childhood experience of abuse, neglect, and family dysfunction. The ACE Study findings suggest that certain experiences are major risk factors for the leading causes of illness and death as well as poor quality of life in the United States.The study is a collaboration between the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Kaiser Permanente’s Health Appraisal Clinic in San Diego.