Reducing parental conflict: Why it matters to children and why it matters to services

Legacy Content

This project or publication was produced before or during the merger of What Works for Children’s Social Care (WWCSC) and the Early Intervention Foundation (EIF).

Our animation explains how frequent, intense and poorly resolved parental conflict can impact on children, and how it can prevent other services and support from working effectively.

Conflict between parents is normal, but if exposure is frequent, intense and poorly resolved, this can have a damaging impact on children, resulting in long-term mental health issues and emotional, social, behavioural and academic problems as they grow up.

Today, there is a growing awareness of the importance of the quality of the relationship between parents – whether they are together or separated – and the need to tackle conflict in the best interests of children.

There may be lots of services in your area that focus on parenting, or the relationship between parents and children. But the ability of these services to help children is likely to be reduced if damaging parental conflict is left unresolved.

This is a problem, if it means that important local services and programmes aren’t equipped to improve children’s lives in the way we all want them to. Many practitioners and services working at the front line lack the confidence, tools and knowledge to identify and support families where damaging conflict is going on. Many parents only seek help when conflict reaches crisis point. And many families experiencing poverty or financial stress, families who are at a greater risk of experiencing damaging conflict, are less likely to get access to vital support.

Early intervention to reduce the impact of parental conflict needs to be at the heart of services, to improve outcomes for children and improve the effectiveness of other family support. We can help you to shape these services in your area.

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