Since my How To Start A Mental Health Blog post was so popular and because I’ve been inundated with messages from those of you who want to know more about blogging, I decided it was about time I start an actual blogging series. I’ve been blogging for a few years now, both with this blog and my photography blog and I’ve also helped write blog posts for other companies, so I think it’s probably about time I share some of the things I’ve learned along the way. Hopefully this will help you save you a lot of time and headaches that I had to endure when starting out because I had no idea wtf I was even doing.
To begin the series with purpose, here’s my guide on How To Start A Profitable Blog In Any Niche… ’cause let’s face it, if you’re not blogging about something you love, will you really stick with it?
I personally think if you’re going to make money from something like blogging, the main subject of your blog should be something you’re passionate about. If you’re talking about something you love, it will come across in your writing and it will especially show when you’re promoting something on your blog.
So when you’ve decided on your niche, whether it’s Travel, Lifestyle, Beauty, Fashion, Finance etc. and you’ve decided on your blog name, it’s time to get set up…
Disclosure: This post contains some affiliate links, meaning, at no additional cost to you, I will earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase. I only endorse products/services that I believe will be a benefit to you and would never recommend something I don’t like or trust.
First tip here, is to check the blog name you want is actually available. Not just as a domain name but all across social media too. It’s so much easier for you and your future followers if your social media handles are all the same on each platform. When I chose Anxious Lass, I made sure it was available everywhere, so I could have the anxiouslass handle on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, YouTube and Google. I made the mistake of not doing this with my photography business and my social media handles are all different and it’s such a pain in the bum!
Once you know that you’re blog name is available, it’s time to set up your hosting and domain. I fully recommend going for a great hosting company from the get go because let me tell you, it’s NOT fun having to transfer your website over to another hosting company a year or so down the line and if you want to start making money right away then you don’t want to get caught up using a free blogging service. Self hosted is definitely the way to go! It’s also much cheaper for you in the long run because if you’re using a free blogging service and then decide you want your own domain and premium features/themes further down the line, you will end up paying out of your arse like I did a few years ago, only to still have limitations on what you can do.
I strongly recommend using SiteGround. It’s the best hosting platform out there in my opinion and when you’re planning to grow your blog and get serious traffic, you really don’t want to be dealing with lots of downtime like you would get with other hosting companies. It’s also not as expensive as you would think. You can get their StartUp web hosting for just $3.95 per month (or £2.75 for us brits).
Once you have your domain and hosting set up, I’d highly advise installing WordPress. This is not to be confused with the WordPress.com blogging website. This WordPress works by installing it onto your own self hosted website, letting you add plugins and all sorts of great themes.. it’s the most customisable blogging system ever and I honestly wouldn’t be able to run this blog without it. It’s also completely free! You can read the WordPress installation guide by SiteGround here.
This is what my WordPress looks like when I’m writing a post:
In my blogs earlier life, the design was pretty rushed and not very well put together. It was white and red and kinda angry looking and I was using a free theme that I couldn’t customise much. When it came to thinking about which direction I wanted to go with my blog, the design and feel of it became a hugely important part of the process. I wanted people to feel safe and invited when they visited my blog, I wanted a space that seemed positive and hopeful. I decided I wanted white, pinks, light blues and gold to be featured colours, they all felt fun and friendly to me.
I also had a vision in my head on what sort of layout I’d like on my blog and I needed it to work better with mobile too.
I came across Pretty Darn Cute Designs and their Fun WordPress Theme was exactly what I wanted for my blog. I had to install the Genesis Framework first and then install the Fun WordPress Theme but I figured it was a fab investment since I would never have the time or patience to create a theme from scratch that I’d be happy with.
There are lots of great WordPress themes out there for blogging, you can easily find some for free on their theme database or if you’d like something extra special and customisable, there are lots of gorgeous themes available on Creative Market such as the Paisley WordPress Theme or the Natalie WordPress theme which I actually use for my photography blog.
This is super important if you want to make money with your blog, now or in the future. Collecting an email list will be extremely valuable, especially if you go on to sell your own ebook, course or want to promote a new blog post and it’s pretty imperative that you allow people to sign up right away.
You might see that I have several ways of allowing people to sign up to my email list, including a pop-up form, a sidebar form, a form at the bottom of blog posts and a form directly at the top of my blog. I use MailerLite for all of this, in fact, I moved over to them only a few months back from my old provider because there was so much more I could do with them.
Automation was the biggest thing for me, as I wanted my email list opt-in (this is an incentive you have for people signing up to your list) to be a free email course. So I needed to be able to have automated, scheduled emails go out to my readers as soon as they sign up. You have to pay straight away for this privilege on most email services but with MailerLite I could do this for free, up until I hit the 1,000 subscribers mark. Pretty cool!
How I designed a subscriber pop-up using my free email course incentive with MailerLite:
Super duper important. You need to know how many people are visiting your blog and how they’re finding you to really make an assessment on what is working and what isn’t. This also helps you to find out which content on your blog is the most popular.
Why do I use both? Google is more in-depth but Jetpack works directly with WordPress so I can see my stats as soon as I login to my blog. I like the best of both worlds really. Plus, Jetpack comes with other good stuff like more commenting options and sharing buttons, so it’s worth having anyway.
Here’s an example of my Google Analytics over a 30 day period:
Now that you can monitor your traffic, it’s time to actually start getting some! Here’s where most of my traffic comes from:
Pinterest: 96.50% of my traffic came from Pinterest this month and it’s the platform I put the least effort into. How do I do that? Tailwind! My monthly traffic went from 2,000 to over 10,000 in 3 months thanks to Tailwind. All I have to do, is schedule my pins with their browser plugin and they automatically post my pins during all the best times of the day. I try to schedule at least 50 pins per day and I could never do this manually on a daily basis!
You can get a free account and that will allow you up to 100 pins which you can spread out but I definitely recommend upgrading to their plus account – but be sure to pay for the year rather than monthly as you get unlimited pins this way!
Another thing you will need to do with Pinterest to gain super traffic is to join group boards, you can find a definitive list of group boards to join on PinGroupie. Personally, I would spend a good couple of hours emailing the owners of lots of group boards because the potential of your pins being shared lots is so much greater when you’re in groups.
Google: Blogging is great for Google as you’re constantly keeping your website fresh and churning out new content but I would highly suggest installing the Yoast SEO plugin for WordPress. The free version of their plugin is great and it’s what I use to make sure each of my blog posts is optimised perfectly for search engines. Another reason to have WordPress installed on your blog… you can get awesome free plugins for blogging perfection!
Facebook: This is another of my top referrers and not just from my Facebook page but from blogging groups, as well as groups that relate to my niche. A lot of blogging groups offer link shares and commenting threads where you can engage with each others blogs and follow each other. This is great for getting new eyes on your content.
Bookmarking Websites: Such as Reddit and StumbleUpon. These two have generated lots of traffic for some of my blog posts in the past but success can be quite random on these websites. You also have to share things other than just pure self promoting as that can lead to your account being banned or not being seen but it’s worth it for those times where your post may go suddenly viral.
Twitter: This is another one I use often because it’s helped me grow an actual community for my blog, making my engagement much better and more meaningful. You may not get loads of hits from Twitter but you’ll make friends in your niche and that’s always good to have. Taking part in twitter chats really helps.
Okay so now we’re getting to the juicy bit, the bit you’ve been waiting for! How do you create a profitable blog, in any niche? Well, you have several options…
The short explanation of affiliate marketing is: you like a product, you recommend said product on your blog, you make a commission on that product. Awesome! But how?
There are several affiliate schemes you can join, and some products have their own specific affiliate program. If I really like a product or service and want to recommend it, I search “product name affiliate program” to see if they have a program I can join.
My favourite affiliate scheme by far though is ShareASale, it’s free to sign up and once you’ve signed up you can apply to be an affiliate for LOADS of companies. So it’s the perfect scheme to join no matter what subject your blog is about. They also provide banners as well as text links for you to share and you can create custom links.
Just check the terms for each company you apply to be an affiliate for, as each company will have a different commission available.
Another great affiliate scheme is Amazon Associates. I mean, Amazon has everything, so you can find plenty of products to recommend for every kind of blog. The great thing about being an affiliate for Amazon is that people already trust Amazon, it’s a well established company and your readers will have probably purchased from there before, so they’re more than likely willing to purchase from there again.
Some other affiliate programs that would suit lots of different niches:
Target (yes THAT Target)
There are several different ways you can implement ads into your blog and get paid for them. One way is to sell ad space or display ads in your sidebar for example, straight to sponsors, but this may take a while as you’ll need to gain a decent following first. Another way is to use programs like Google Adsense or Media.net, both of which I use on this blog, as you can put these in your blog straight away.
These methods won’t make you big bucks unless you’re swimming in blog traffic but it will increase your earnings with some passive income, as once you’ve placed the ads on your blog, you don’t need to do anything else for them to earn you money.
Companies often sponsor blogs through things like paid guest posts, paid reviews and even mentions on social media channels. Once your blog has gained some traction and you’re getting a good amount of regular visitors every month, it’s not too difficult to find companies who will happily sponsor you or pay you to be an influencer.
You could sign up to ELLEfluence and connect with brands or you could simply pitch to brands you like. Brands may even contact you themselves if they like your blog.
You don’t even have to have a massive following to be sponsored, as some companies prefer smaller bloggers but with better engagement.
Another great way of creating a profitable blog is to sell your own products, using your blog as a platform. Many bloggers go on to selling e-books and e-courses through their blog, making hundreds, if not thousands. If you’re already writing amazing content for free, you may as well put together something you know your readers will like and then sell it as a bonus on your blog. You could even get people to sell it for you by creating an affiliate program.
Perhaps you’re blog is about health and you can offer 1-1 nutrition advice, or your blog is about marketing and you can offer online coaching. Using your blog as a platform to sell a service is a great way of building an income, as you’re already driving people to your blog who are interested in the service you’re selling.
Well there you have it! Hopefully you’re now on your way to creating a profitable blog in your chosen niche. Please do feel free to comment with any questions you have and if you found this post helpful, feel free to share
New research has confirmed that smartphone apps can be an effective treatment option for depression.
Depression is the most prevalent mental disorder and a leading cause of global disability, with mental health services worldwide struggling to meet the demand for treatment.
In an effort to tackle this challenge, researchers from Australia’s National Institute of Complementary Medicine (NICM), Harvard Medical School, the University of Manchester, and the Black Dog Institute in Australia examined the efficacy of smartphone-based treatments for depression.
The researchers reviewed 18 randomized controlled trials that examined 22 different smartphone-delivered mental health interventions.
The studies involved more than 3,400 people between the ages of 18-59 with a range of mental health symptoms and conditions, including major depression, mild to moderate depression, bipolar disorder, anxiety, and insomnia.
Published in World Psychiatry, the study found that smartphone apps significantly reduced people’s depressive symptoms.
Lead author of the paper, NICM postdoctoral research fellow Dr. Joseph Firth said this was an important finding, which presents a new opportunity for providing accessible and affordable care for patients who might not otherwise have access to treatment.
“The majority of people in developed countries own smartphones, including younger people who are increasingly affected by depression,” he said.
“Combined with the rapid technological advances in this area, these devices may ultimately be capable of providing instantly accessible and highly effective treatments for depression, reducing the societal and economic burden of this condition worldwide.”
Jerome Sarris, NICM deputy director, highlighted the importance of the findings for opening up non-stigmatizing and self-managing avenues of care.
“The data shows us that smartphones can help people monitor, understand, and manage their own mental health,” he said. “Using apps as part of an ‘integrative medicine’ approach for depression has been demonstrated to be particularly useful for improving mood and tackling symptoms in these patients.”
According to the study’s findings, the apps may be best for people with mild to moderate depression.
The researchers found no difference in apps that apply principles of mindfulness compared to cognitive behavioral therapy or mood-monitoring programs.
However, interventions that used entirely self-contained apps — meaning the app did not rely on other aspects, such as clinician and computer feedback — were found to be significantly more effective than non-self-contained apps.
The researchers suggested this might be due to the comprehensiveness of these particular stand-alone apps rather than the combination of therapies.
Despite the promising results, there is no evidence to suggest that using apps alone can outperform standard psychological therapies or reduce the need for antidepressant medications, the researchers advise.
Jennifer Nicholas, a Ph.D. candidate at Black Dog Institute and co-author of the paper, said now that it’s confirmed that apps can be effective for managing depression, future research must investigate which features produce these beneficial effects.
“Given the multitude of apps available — many of them unregulated — it’s critical that we now unlock which specific app attributes reap the greatest benefits, to help ensure that all apps available to people with depression are effective.”
Commonly known as the “love hormone,” oxytocin plays a major role in social relationships — but more isn’t always better. A new mouse study published in the journal Biological Psychiatry shows that oxytocin amplifies the effects of social experiences — both good and bad. In fact, after negative social experiences, the presence of oxytocin in a particular part of the brain results in avoidance of unfamiliar social situations.
For the study, behavioral neuroscientists Natalia Duque-Wilckens and Brian Trainor worked with female California mice. When stressed, these mice often exhibit a form of social anxiety, shying away from unfamiliar mice instead of approaching them. However, the findings show that a single dose of a drug that blocks the activity of oxytocin restored normal social behavior in stressed females.
The findings are exciting because “for antidepressants like Prozac to have this same effect, it takes a month of daily treatment,” said Trainor, a professor in the University of California (UC), Davis Department of Psychology, College of Letters and Science.
The researchers expected the mice to behave in this manner based on their previous work showing that social stress increases the activity of oxytocin-producing cells in the brain and that females given intranasal oxytocin tend to avoid new social contexts.
Postdoctoral researcher Duque-Wilckens said that these findings support the theory that oxytocin amplifies the effects of social experiences. So rather than promoting only positive social interactions, oxytocin intensifies the experience of both positive and negative social interactions.
In a positive context, such as with family or friends, oxytocin could promote social approach behavior (hence its reputation as the “cuddling” hormone). However, in a negative context, like bullying, oxytocin could promote social avoidance.
But how can the same hormone have such different effects on behavior? The researchers found that two brain regions responded to oxytocin more strongly in females than males. These regions were the bed nucleus of the stria terminalis (BNST), a brain region known to control anxiety, and the nucleus accumbens, a brain region important for reward and motivation.
The team found that injecting an oxytocin blocker into the BNST, but not the nucleus accumbens, reversed the effects of stress on social behavior in females. Work by other researchers has suggested that oxytocin in the nucleus accumbens promotes rewarding aspects of social interactions.
These findings suggest that oxytocin can generate social anxiety or reward by acting in different areas of the brain. At times when oxytocin is acting in the BNST, drugs that block oxytocin could reduce social anxiety.
Trainor said a consistent theme in oxytocin research is that experience and the surrounding environment have important effects on how oxytocin affects behavior.
“Stressful social experiences appear to change which parts of the brain use oxytocin,” he said. “Understanding how this works in a mouse gives us new ideas on how we could use drugs targeting oxytocin to reduce social anxiety.”
Source: University of California, Davis
I’m delighted to announce, that ‘We’re All Mad Here’ has been shortlisted again for a Mind Award. This will be the second time. I was…
Lets talk about Peppermint! First cultivated in 1750 near London, as an experimental hybrid between watermint and spearmint. Like most mint plants, It’s really effective…
New research suggests that both good and bad moods can be “picked up” or transferred from friends, but depression cannot.
In the study, U.K. investigators examined whether friends’ moods can spread across friendship networks and affect other individuals.
To do this, University of Warwick researchers analyzed data from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent to Adult Health which incorporates the moods and friendship networks of US adolescents in schools.
Investigators believe their findings imply that mood does spread over friendship networks, as do various different symptoms of depression such as helplessness and loss of interest. However, they also found that the effect from lower or worse mood friends was not strong enough to push the other friends into depression.
Using mathematical modelling they found that having more friends who suffer worse moods is associated with a higher probability of an individual experiencing low moods and a decreased probability of improving. Conversely, they found the positive moods can spread among teens who had a more positive social circle.
Public health statistics researcher Rob Eyre, a Warwick doctoral student, led the study. Investigators looked for evidence for the individual components of mood (such as appetite, tiredness, and sleep) spreading through U.S. adolescent friendship networks; they then adjusted for confounding by modelling the transition probabilities of changing mood state over time.
“Evidence suggests mood may spread from person to person via a process known as social contagion,” Eyre said.
“Previous studies have found social support and befriending to be beneficial to mood disorders in adolescents while recent experiments suggest that an individual’s emotional state can be affected by exposure to the emotional expressions of social contacts.
“Clearly, a greater understanding of how changes in the mood of adolescents are affected by the mood of their friends would be beneficial in informing interventions tackling adolescent depression.”
The World Health Organization has estimated that depression affects 350 million people across the world, impacting on individual’s abilities to work and socialize and at worse leading to suicide.
Researchers believe the findings emphasize the need to also consider those who exhibit levels of depressive symptoms — just below those needed for a diagnosis of actual depression — when designing public health interventions.
The study also helps confirm that there is more to depression than simply low mood. At the individual level, these findings imply that following the evidence-based advice for improving mood, e.g. exercise, sleeping well, and managing stress, can help a teenager’s friends as well as themselves.
But for depression, friends do not put an individual at risk of illness so a recommended course of action would be to show them support.
The study conclusions link in to current policy discussions on the importance of sub-threshold levels of depressive symptoms and could help inform interventions against depression in senior schools
Co-author Dr. Frances Griffiths of Warwick Medical School said, “The results found here can inform public health policy and the design of interventions against depression in adolescents. Sub-threshold levels of depressive symptoms in adolescents is an issue of great current concern as they have been found to be very common, to cause a reduced quality of life and to lead to greater risk of depression later on in life than having no symptoms at all.
“Understanding that these components of mood can spread socially suggests that while the primary target of social interventions should be to increase friendships because of its benefits in reducing of the risk of depression, a secondary aim could be to reduce spreading of negative mood.”
The study is published in the journal Royal Society Open Science.
Source: University of Warwick
suicide loss doesn’t stop hurting after one month or one year or one decade. i am 21 years into this journey and the impact is still there. the fallout is forever. i try my best to be positive and hopeful, to remember that i can deal with this and that i am a survivor. but some days, some weeks, i don’t feel like a survivor. i feel like i am just surviving.
that moment when i walked into the laundry room and found my dad is forever. it went somewhere deep inside of me and lodged itself into the core of who i am. i have been in years of therapy. i have reached out for help and talked to so many people. i have done my best to be aware of what i need and to take care of myself to the best of my ability. i write write write it out and process through this blog. but that moment is still there. the terror is still there. the abandonment is still there. the traumatized little girl is still there. maybe not as bad today as it was 21 years ago. but suicide is forever.
the abandonment i experienced when i lost my dad, the pain that my entire family experienced is forever. at 13 years old i was faced with a loss that was bigger and more complicated that i could comprehend. i was so sad that i couldn’t even cry. i was so scared that i didn’t even know it. and that feeling lasted in a conscious way for years and then went below the surface and is still present today. what if i fail? what if you don’t like me? what if you see who i really am and then you leave me? suicide is forever.
there is no road map for surviving a suicide loss. and especially as a child, i didn’t have the emotional framework to begin to process what had happened. i wasn’t even diagnosed with ptsd until i was 31, because back when my dad died ptsd was something that veterans experienced. not seventh grade girls. so many of my symptoms went untreated and i developed unhealthy ways of coping with the trauma. obsessive thoughts and behaviors to control my surroundings. checking checking checking to be sure that the people still closest to me were not going to leave. shopping to fill the empty space inside and to have a momentary rush of feeling beautiful, desirable, wanted. i am working on them, i am trying to change but i still do all of those things today. suicide is forever.
sometimes it feels that just when i have gotten to the bottom of my dad’s suicide it drops out again and i have to go deeper. there is always more to work on. there is always more to learn about myself. during weeks like this one it feels almost maddening. how many more layers are there to peel away? how can i work so hard at this and still feel stuck in the same behaviors i exhibited at 13, 15, 18 years old? i try to be kind to myself as i go through this process but that in and of itself is one of the biggest consequences of my grief and early trauma: on a deep-down level i see myself as not good enough. so i put myself down, over and over again. i try to grow and make different choice but it’s still inside of me. suicide is forever.
i want to scream at my dad, take him by the shoulders and shake him really hard.
look at this, look at what you left me with. look at what you did to me. did you know? did you think? did you realize?
suicide is forever.
A new study from Iowa State University finds that midlife tension with mothers and siblings, similar to that with spouses, is associated with symptoms of depression.
The research, which appears in the journal Social Sciences, found all three relationships have a similar effect, and one is not stronger than another.
“Family scholars have focused a lot on the relationship we have with our spouse,” said Megan Gilligan, Ph.D., an assistant professor of human development and family studies. “There is this assumption that as you go through your life course, you leave these other relationships with your parents and siblings behind, but you don’t. You carry those with you.”
The relationship between mothers and daughters is even more significant. The research shows tension between mothers and adult children was a stronger predictor of depression for daughters than it was for sons.
However, gender did not make a difference in relationships with spouses and siblings. Gilligan says this makes sense based on her previous research.
“We know that mothers and daughters in adulthood have the closest relationships and also the most conflictual. These are really intense relationships,” she said. “Later in life, adult children start providing more care to their parents, and daughters in particular are often caregivers for their mothers.”
Midlife is often characterized as stable and uneventful, but in reality, it is a time of change and transition for many people, Gilligan said.
For example, adult children may be leaving the house and aging parents start requiring more care. Additionally, researchers know that midlife adults often react more strongly to family conflict than older adults do.
While there is a great deal of research on young families and family dynamics later in life, there is a gap at midlife, Gilligan said. Given the potential for greater conflict with mothers or siblings related to these midlife changes, it is important to understand the consequences of negative relationships on our psychological well-being.
“Midlife is a time when siblings are often coming back together as they prepare and navigate care for parents,” she said. “For that reason, it’s a pivotal time when these family relationships might be experiencing more tension, more strain, more discord.”
The researchers believe mental health professionals should take a holistic view and consider the whole family when providing care for an individual’s depressive symptoms.
For the study, investigators used data collected through the Within-Family Differences Study. Their analysis included 495 adult children within 254 families.
For a majority of families, multiple siblings participated in the study. Researchers measured depressive symptoms and tension among family members through survey questions. They controlled for race, gender, and education.
In the paper, Gilligan and her colleagues explained that they expected all three relationships would predict depressive symptoms, but the effect would vary depending on the quality of the relationship.
The fact that they found no significant difference between spouses, mothers, and siblings is important to note, especially for practitioners. Gilligan said instead of focusing solely on a romantic partner or spouse, marriage and family therapists should ask about other sources of family stress.
“These findings show that we are navigating other family relationships at the same time and we’re not experiencing them in isolation — we’re experiencing them simultaneously,” Gilligan said.
“The stress people are experiencing may be the result of a romantic partner or spouse. However, it could also be that they’re fighting with their siblings or they’re experiencing a lot of tension with their mother even though they are 50 years old.”
Source: Iowa State University
Few parents want their children to hear them arguing. But new research suggests it may be OK as long as the parents handle disagreements in a constructive way.
University of Arizona investigators looked at how parents manage conflict with each other, and the way in which this affects their parenting styles.
Olena Kopystynska, a graduate student in the Norton School of Family and Consumer Sciences in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences and lead author on the paper, also investigated how emotionally secure children feel after being exposed to conflict between their parents.
Kopystynska’s study focuses on constructive versus destructive styles of conflict management.
In constructive conflict management, there is calmness and respect, despite a difference in opinion; the conflict stays focused on one topic; and progress is made toward a resolution. When conflict is handled destructively, there is anger and resentment, and the argument often strays off topic to things that may have happened in the past.
Kopystynska and her colleagues found that when even one parent handles conflict with a partner destructively, it can leave children feeling more emotionally insecure about their home life.
“Children are very good at picking up on little nuances of how parents interact with each other, so it really matters how parents express and manage their daily life challenges because that determines children’s confidence in the stability and safety of their family,” Kopystynska said.
“If parents are hostile toward each other, even children as young as three years old may be threatened that their family may be headed toward dissolution. They may not necessarily be able to express their insecurities verbally, but they can feel it.”
Kopystynska’s study is based on national data collected for the Building Strong Families Project, which targeted low-income families; a population that could be at high risk for conflict, given the many stressors associated with financial strife.
Parents in the study were mostly unmarried and had just conceived their first child at the start of data collection, which was done in three waves.
Kopystynska focused on the third wave of data, collected when the children in the study were three years old. Mothers and fathers were surveyed at that point about their perceptions of their conflict management behaviors with each other, and how their children react emotionally when they witness conflict between their parents.
While similar studies have relied only on data from mothers, the inclusion of fathers helps provide a more complete picture of what’s going on, Kopystynska said.
Kopystynska and her co-authors identified four different profiles of the couples surveyed:
The researchers also looked at supportive and harsh parenting behaviors, as measured through direct observations of each parent separately interacting with his or her child.
Supportive behaviors might include making positive statements, being sensitive to the child’s needs, and engaging the child in cognitively stimulating ways. Harsh parenting might include forceful or intrusive behaviors or expressions of anger and dissatisfaction toward the child.
Researchers found that fathers’ parenting styles did not seem to be affected by how they managed conflict with their partners. In other words, fathers interacted with their children similarly in all profiles.
Yet, mothers in the profile in which fathers handled conflict constructively and mothers handled conflict destructively tended to be harsher with their children than mothers in the profile in which both parents handled conflict constructively.
As far as the impact on children’s emotional insecurity, researchers found that when one parent handled conflict destructively and the other constructively, children’s emotional insecurity was higher than what was reported for children whose parents both handled conflict constructively.
“What we found is that when parents are using constructive conflict management, the children feel less insecure about their family climate, and when at least one parent argues destructively, there are some levels of insecurity about the family relationships,” Kopystynska said.
Kopystynska points out that a common misconception is that most low-income families are at risk for dysfunctional behaviors — yet, very few couples in the study were entirely destructive in their conflict management styles.
In fact, only three percent of couples in the sample included two partners who handled conflict destructively, suggesting that most couples in the sample participated in healthy and positive conflict patterns.
“There is often a belief out there that if you are a low-income family, you probably have a lot of dysfunction, but over 50 percent of the couples we looked at were arguing constructively,” Kopystynska said.
“Considering all the stressors they’re dealing with, the majority of them still have a good, functional relationship, at least when it comes to conflict.”
The fact that the group in which both parents were arguing in destructive ways was so small might help explain one surprising finding of Kopystynska’s study — that emotional insecurity levels were lowest for children of these parents.
Also contributing to that finding could be the fact that those couples may have broken up and physically separated from each other by the time the data was collected, meaning that children may not have been as directly exposed to their parents’ interactions, Kopystynska said.
“Parents who were in the concordant destructive group were less likely to stay together, so they were probably not in the same home, so children were probably not exposed to that interparental conflict,” said Kopystynska, whose co-authors on the paper were University of Arizona faculty members Drs. Melissa Barnett and Melissa Curran, along with Dr. Katherine Paschall of the University of Texas at Austin.
In general, Kopystynska said, it’s important for parents to be aware of how they interact with each other, and remember that conflict shouldn’t necessarily be avoided but handled in a way that makes a child feel less threatened.
“Not all conflict is bad — it’s about how you manage it,” Kopystynska said.
“Given that children are going to encounter conflict out there in the real world, exposure to some conflict can be beneficial. However, it’s really how parents handle that conflict that sets the tone for how safe children feel, and may further promote similar conflict management behaviors for when children are confronted with conflict of their own.”
Source: University of Arizona