Niyantri

Indian American researcher Niyantri Ravindran is the lead author in a study that found that the intense negative emotions parents experience when their children fight were reduced as their children learned to get along better with others. (Hcd.illinois.edu photo)

NEW YORK — Parents must look at how their kids negotiate and resolve fights so that they can do the same to make their relationship stronger, says a new study.

According to a study led by an Indian American researcher, several parents, especially mothers, use the way their kids get along with others as a barometer for how well they are doing as a parent.

“When children fight with their siblings, they learn important lessons, such as how to settle, negotiate and compromise. They begin to see conflict as a problem they can solve,” said Niyantri Ravindran, lead study author from the University of Illinois.

“This is true even though virtually all siblings have some conflict,” said Laurie Kramer, co-author and professor of applied family studies.

The study compared parents of siblings with a control group composed of parents of non-participants. Parents reported that the intense negative emotions they experience when their children fight were reduced as their children learned to get along better with others.

“Fathers tend to get more involved with their kids when they are playing, whereas mothers tend to coach their children more,” Kramer said.

Mothers appear to have incorporated the skills their children were taught into the way they manage their own emotions. In contrast, fathers who noticed more warmth between their children after the program were better able to manage their negative emotions when their children did squabble.

The study appeared in the Journal of Family Psychology.

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