'Children remodel what adults do': Expert urges parents to be mindful of how they speak to each other

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"A senior attorney with many years of experience and who specializes in family law, usually charges between R2000 and R3000 per hour."
"A senior attorney with many years of experience and who specializes in family law, usually charges between R2000 and R3000 per hour."

Sometimes heated arguments can be unavoidable, even in a happy home. But it takes two responsible adults to recognise how their behaviour during a fight can affect their children

We reached out to Dr Divya Naidoo, currently working at Save The Children SA, to help parents on how they can ensure a safer environment for their children even during heated arguments.

Dr Naidoo says that "as adults, when you care about somebody, you shouldn't be fighting each other, you can disagree, but you can disagree even in a civil manner."

She says that you want your children to see good role modelling and learn how to disagree about something as an adult and you do that by showing care for each other. 

Dr Naidoo says that shouting at each other during an argument is not acceptable, especially in front of children, because children model bad behaviour.

Read: Study reveals that 30% of people are okay with secretly monitoring their partner

In an example she makes, Dr Naidoo shared what happened in one household where parents used to talk to each other aggressively.

She says children copied that and repeated it in front of their parents and their parents were shocked as to where they learnt that behaviour. But that was exactly what the parents were like with each other. The children thought that's how married couples talk.

She says that because children remodel what adults are doing, they learn vulgar language from adults and repeat it because they think it is normal.

"Parents need to be very mindful of how they speak to each other, and they need to model respectful behaviour, even in the face of discipline. But when they start, it's a whole other ballgame... it's when they start to get violent with each other."

She says that sometimes children tend to practice the violent behaviour they learnt in their home at school with other children because they think, 'If I don't like something and I disagree, then this is how I'm solving it.'

All of that begins with parents arguing with each other, she says.

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