Teen arguments spill over into family life

The arguments teenagers have with their peers may influence the way they behave towards their family, new research has suggested. Published in the journal Child Development, the study looked at how disagreements with friends can help to cause fights in the home.

Investigators at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) noted young people tend to respond with more negative and extreme emotions than adults or children because they are going through a number of important transitions in their lives.

Andrew Fuligni, a Professor of Psychiatry at the Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behaviour at UCLA, said: "Given this tendency among adolescents, emotional distress might potentially explain this idea of a family-peer spillover of conflict."

In addition, the researchers also discovered the effect of family in-fighting tends to last for a longer period when compared with arguments between friends, with girls often disagreeing with their mother and father on more occasions than their male counterparts.

Dr Carol Burniston, Chartered Psychologist, commented: "I think this confirms what those of us who work clinically have experienced - if young people are unhappy in one area of their lives, it spills over into others. 

"I think that given that adolescent girls tend to communicate more than their male peers within the family and outside, one might reasonably expect that the level of disagreement might be higher."