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The Barnet Safeguarding Children Partnership

Reducing parental conflict - tools, resources and information

The content on this page is to enable parents to help themselves during conflict and arguments with their partner

We have worked with the relationship experts at Amity to create some useful self-help support guides to help you communicate better with your partner or co-parent if you are separated.

Videos showing what it feels like for children when their parents argue:

Barnet’s free self help guide for those struggling with arguments and communication 

Next Time Self Help Separated Parents Barnet (PDF, 1.5 MB)

Next Time Better Communication Intact Couples (PDF, 3 MB)

We have also worked with the relationship experts at Tavistock Relationships* who support us with materials for parents experiencing higher levels of parental conflict and who have produced the Better Conversations role-play, self-help materialsExternal link.

However, if you feel you or your children are in immediate danger please call the Police on 999. If you feel you have urgent welfare concerns about children or young people that require an immediate response, phone the Multi-Agency Safeguarding Hub (MASH) on 020 8359 4066.

The MASH team are available Monday to Thursday 9am to 5.15pm and Friday 9am to 5pm. Outside these hours you should report any concerns that need an immediate response to our emergency duty team on 020 8359 2000.

If you are worried that a child may be suffering, or may be at risk of harm, you should complete a MASH safeguarding referral which you can access via our Worried about a child webpage.

There is also information about services who may be able to offer more urgent support on our parental conflict urgent help page.

In addition, if you feel that you may need more professional support than can be provided via these self-help materials, the 0-19 Early Help Hubs provide up to 6 weeks of structured interventions to help both parents together, or those who are separated to reduce parental conflict.

There are also more general parenting programmes on offer from the Child and Family Early Help Hubs, as well some run by schools and local organisations.

Information on the support from available from Early Help.

Conflict and arguments between parents or carers that are together or separated 

Some level of arguing and conflict between parents or carers is often a normal part of everyday life. However, there is strong evidence to show that frequent, intense, and poorly resolved arguments can have a significant negative impact on children’s mental health and long-term life chances.

Having ongoing arguments with our partner or our co-parent (if we are no longer in a relationship with them) can also have a serious impact on our own emotional wellbeing because the arguing can make us feel emotionally drained.

In Barnet, we are trying to raise awareness so that people can get the help they need sooner rather than later.

Barnet is part of the national Reducing Parental Conflict (RPC) programmeExternal link. This programme is government funded and is aimed at helping parents who are struggling with their conflict.

Domestic abuse and parental conflict are not the same thing

Domestic abuse is not the same as parental conflict.

Relationships should not make you feel unsafe and you should not be frightened of your partner. If you want to know more about domestic abuse please go view our domestic abuse section

Exit this siteExternal link

What does parental conflict look like?

Damaging conflict between parents and carers can be expressed in many ways such as:

  • shouting and swearing at each other 
  • trying to be the ‘winner’ in arguments 
  • not trying to sort the arguments out or find solutions
  • arguing about lots of different things rather than focussing on an individual issue

What parents/carers argue about

Anything and everything can cause arguments.  Life is stressful and when we are stressed, we are more likely to argue and struggle to resolve it.

There are lots of the different things that cause arguments such as:

  • money problems
  • parenting the children and family life in general
  • mental health 
  • illness or caring for someone who is ill
  • problems with trust in the relationship 
  • drug or alcohol problems
  • having different views about things
  • household jobs such as who does the cleaning and cooking

Conflict and arguments can affect children in all types of parental and carer relationships, including:

  • parents who are in a relationship, whether married or not
  • parents who have separated or divorced
  • biological and step parents
  • other family members playing a parenting role
  • foster and adoptive parents
  • same sex couples

The RPC programme in Barnet aims to focus on the ways parents behave, rather than the status of the relationship.

How children are affected by arguments between parents or carers

There is lots of evidence that ongoing, frequent and intense arguments can make children feel anxious. Children struggle to understand why arguments between adults happen and it can make them feel as if the arguments are their fault.

Children who live with ongoing, destructive conflict can:

  • do less well at school than their friends
  • struggle with their emotional well-being and feel more anxious
  • Struggle to sleep properly 
  • develop poor communication and conflict resolution skills

Babies, toddlers, children and young people can be upset and anxious about their parent or carer relationships even if they seem ok on the outside. 

Even if you think the children can’t hear your arguments, they know that something isn’t right and this makes them feel unsettled.

What can I do as a parent or carer?

There is a lot of help for anyone who wants to make changes to the way they communicate during arguments. Here is a link to::

Organisations that may be of use


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