Home » News » Parenting » Teen Arguments Can Spill Over to School, Home

Teen Arguments Can Spill Over to School, Home

Teen Arguments Can Spill Over to School, HomeA new study examines how arguments at home with teens may affect things at school and how arguments with friends may cause arguments at home.

Psychologist Dr. Andrew Fuligni and his colleagues found that adolescents experienced more arguments with parents or other family members on days in which conflicts with peers took place, and vice versa.

Family fights seemed to last longer as well; the effect of family conflict spilled over into peer relationships the next day and two days later, while peer conflict only affected fights at home on the following day.

The findings are reported in the September–October edition of the journal Child Development.

“Every parent of a teen knows these years can get a little emotional,” said Fuligni. “So when disagreements occur, we wanted to know if there was a transmission of negative emotions between the two groups.

“Adolescents tend to respond with more extreme and negative emotions than do pre-adolescents or adults, probably because it’s the time in their lives when they are experiencing multiple transitions that might be stressful,” he said, citing such things as puberty, dating and changing schools as examples.

“Given this tendency among adolescents, emotional distress might potentially explain this idea of a family-peer spillover of conflict.”

During the study, researchers recruited 578 ninth-grade students from three public high schools in the Los Angeles metropolitan area. Ethnicities were mixed: 235 adolescents were from Mexican backgrounds, 172 from Chinese and 171 from European backgrounds.

Students completed an initial background questionnaire at school and then completed a diary checklist at the end of each day for 14 days. In it, they recorded their emotions and whether various events had occurred that day, including arguing with parents and friends.

An interesting finding was the discovery that in addition to the emotional spillover between the two groups, the effect of family conflict persisted longer than that of peer conflict.

In addition, on days when teenagers argued with parents or other family members, girls experienced more peer conflict than boys. This, the researchers said, suggests that arguing with parents or other family members, as opposed to friends, may be a distinctly more stressful event for girls during this period.

Finally, and contrary to the researcher’s expectation, the daily family-peer link operated the same across ethnicities.

“The bottom line,” said Fuligni, “is that adolescents’ interactions in the home and with peers shape each other on a daily basis, at least in part through emotional distress.”

Source: UCLA

Teen Arguments Can Spill Over to School, Home

Rick Nauert PhD

Rick Nauert, PhDDr. Rick Nauert has over 25 years experience in clinical, administrative and academic healthcare. He is currently an associate professor for Rocky Mountain University of Health Professionals doctoral program in health promotion and wellness. Dr. Nauert began his career as a clinical physical therapist and served as a regional manager for a publicly traded multidisciplinary rehabilitation agency for 12 years. He has masters degrees in health-fitness management and healthcare administration and a doctoral degree from The University of Texas at Austin focused on health care informatics, health administration, health education and health policy. His research efforts included the area of telehealth with a specialty in disease management.

APA Reference
Nauert PhD, R. (2018). Teen Arguments Can Spill Over to School, Home. Psych Central. Retrieved on November 25, 2020, from
Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 8 Aug 2018 (Originally: 7 Oct 2011)
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 8 Aug 2018
Published on Psych All rights reserved.