In the study, the researchers interviewed pre-school children aged 3–6 years about their experiences of family life and conflict. The interviews focus on children’s emotional experiences. The study included 17 children whose parents participated in the voluntary ‘Triple P’ parenting programme through municipal pre-schools in Uppsala. The children were permitted to withdraw their participation at any time during the interviews to go to their parents who were in an adjacent room.
The results show that the children were able to describe both negative and positive aspects of their family relationships. They talked about escalating conflicts with their parents, but also about positive moments together.
Several children sought comfort from their siblings or pets when things got tough at home, such as after a fight with their parents or when they had got hurt.
“We found that the children looked for help from others around them when they were sad or angry. While that could be deemed positive, conflicts between parents and children often remained unresolved. But the children also described positive experiences of making up after a fight, and how the relationship could be repaired in a good way,” adds Karin Fängström, co-author of the study.
The researchers are now calling for the inclusion of children’s perspectives in future research on parenting and parenting support to better understand and support families. This would represent an important step towards improving parenting and family life. (KS/Newswise)