Project THRIVE

Teamwork & Happiness In Relationships & Its Intergenerational Value & Effectiveness

Principal Investigator

  • Patrick Davies, Ph.D.


  • Mona El-Sheikh, Ph.D. (Auburn University)


  • National Institute of Child Health and Human Development

Project Summary

Some types of conflict between parents are beneficial to the family and children. For example constructive conflict consists of cooperation, problem-solving, and support between parents during disagreements. In addition, children who witness more constructive conflicts between their parents are healthier, happier, and more cooperative. However, little is known about how why and when children directly benefit from witnessing constructive conflict between parents.

To address these questions, Project THRIVE is a study that is designed to better understand how and why constructive conflict between parents may increase children’s health and well-being.

The project involves 239 parents and their 4-year-old children who are participating in the study every year for three years. We are interested in whether children who witness constructive conflicts between parents may increase their health and well-being by increasing their: (1) attention to displays of different emotions; (2) understanding of the causes and consequences of different emotions and social situations; and (3) ability to control their emotions and solve social problems. We are also interested in understanding what makes some kids more sensitive than others to constructive conflict in ways that make them especially likely to benefit from witnessing them. Parents and children participate in a variety of different activities including interacting with each other, solving problems, learning during challenging games, participating in interviews, and filling out surveys. We are hoping that use the information we learn can be used to help develop programs that help children thrive.