Child Presence During Psychologically Aggressive Interparental Conflict: Implications for Internalizing and Externalizing Behavior



Based on a sample of parents (N = 148) of 4- to 7-year-olds (N = 74, M = 5.76 years), this study adapted a widely used, self-report measure of couples' dyadic conflict behavior to include reports of couples' conflict behavior in the child's presence (triadic conflict) to examine their additive and interactive associations with child maladjustment. Significant interaction effects suggested that higher levels of triadic psychologically aggressive conflict were associated with higher levels of child externalizing (b = .134, p = .024) and internalizing (b = .189, p < .001) problems, but only if levels of dyadic psychological aggression were average or higher. When levels of couples' dyadic psychological aggression were low, levels of child presence did not relate to child behavior. Predictors of triadic psychological aggression included parental involvement (b = .266, p = .003), parent–child functioning (b = −.288, p = .042), and marital adjustment (b = −.346, p < .001).