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Interparental Conflict—Effects on Children

Individual Protective Factors

Protective factors refer to the processes that reduce the probability of negative developmental outcomes occurring despite the presence of some psychosocial or biological hazard, or risk factor (Margolin, Oliver, and Medina 2001). The marital conflict literature has identified several individual child characteristics that serve not only to reduce a child's level of vulnerability to a stressor such as marital conflict, but in many cases to lead to adaptive outcomes. Some of these characteristics include cognitive appraisals, coping responses, intelligence, and emotional responsiveness. Children who report less self-blame, less threat, and more resolution have better outcomes, as do children who utilize emotion-focused (how to regulate stressful emotions within oneself), rather than problem-focused coping (trying to manage or alter the conflict) (Margolin, Oliver, and Medina 2001). More effective coping strategies appear, in particular, to reduce the likelihood of anxiety and depression symptoms (Kerig 2001). As is the case with other risk factors, children with higher levels of intelligence tend to fare better in the context of marital conflict than do children with lower levels of intelligence (Katz and Gottman 1997), though this may be due its association with the development of more effective coping resources. In addition, several lines of research suggest that focusing on children's emotional responses to conflict is important. How children evaluate the conflict, their emotional reaction to it, and how they regulate affect all play a role in determining children's adjustment (Crockenberg and Langrock 2001).

Additional topics

Marriage and Family EncyclopediaPregnancy & ParenthoodInterparental Conflict—Effects on Children - Theoretical Models, Dimensions Of Marital Conflict, Individual Protective Factors, Conclusion