Monday, February 6, 2012

Affects of Verbal Altercations on Infants--Mandy Lickteig

A couple of years ago I was at my dad’s visiting and my niece was there with her five month old son.  My niece and her husband began to engage themselves in a, somewhat, tense disagreement over a random topic.  My niece stopped and explained to him that this type of behavior was inappropriate in front of the baby.  Her husband strongly disagreed and explained that the baby was too young to know what was going on.  Is this type of behavior acceptable or unacceptable?
            I have two children of my own and don’t concur with verbal altercations taking place in front of children, but at the same time I am not perfect and I was guilty of this behavior in the past when they were babies.   However, I was 21 years old when I had my son and I lacked knowledge in infant development. Today I am aware of the negative impact this could have on children.  One being, newborn babies are born with mirror neurons, which are located in the cerebral cortex and this enables the baby’s ability to learn through imitation.  Some might say that infants are still too young to notice, but my argument is classical conditioning.  Babies learn by observations that are going on around them rather it be positive or negative.  Baby’s brains cannot process exactly what is going on when parents fight; however, the baby knows and can sense that something is wrong.  The baby can become confused because they lack the mental capacity to understand the situation.  Infants also recognizes facial expressions from happy to ones that seem distressed, and the baby could begin to feel scared and stressed themselves, which could affect his/her social relations throughout childhood all the way to adulthood.  Last, alot of the time parents fight when their infants are asleep; as a result, their sleeping patterns become disturbed.  Sleep is extremely important in infancy, because brain and physical development is taking place.  Constant interruption of the process could possibly have a lasting effect on the infant.  My advice to parents or expecting parents…show love not anger!!


  1. I greatly enjoyed your presentation of not arguing in front of infants, either asleep or awake. You did an excellent job in the description as you went along. Thank you for this insightful review.

  2. I do know that kids model their parents. However, I feel like kids need to see their parents disagree on issues. In turn, they need to see how parents resolve those issues. If they do not see parents resolve their issues, how are they supposed to learn about resolutions? You are right, babies do learn positive and negative reactions by observation. They need to learn both. It is hard to know how much they need to observe at any one time. We just need to be there to support them with love and kindness.
    Susan Davis