Children look to their parents for stability, routine, and love. When the parents’ marriage breaks down, children react to this sudden change in their family structure in numerous ways. Parents who want to help their children through this change and continue to provide the love and support their kids desire should first learn what children experience during divorce.
Blame and Guilt
When kids first learn that their parents are getting divorced, they often blame themselves and wonder if they have done something to cause the break up of the marriage. They may think that because they disobeyed or failed to clean up their room that they somehow contributed to the divorce.
When they have convinced themselves that they are to blame, at least to some degree, children may also feel guilty. They may think that if they had just behaved better or somehow acted differently that their parents may still want to be together.
During a divorce, one of your primary concerns as a parent will be your child’s adjustment to the new living arrangements. While some children sail through divorce with little difficulty, others may struggle long after the divorce is final. If your child is exhibiting new behaviors that are cause for concern, then here is how to tell if it may be necessary to visit a professional for support.
Signs a Child Is Struggling with Divorce
It is common for children to show some signs of distress during the divorce process; however these symptoms should clear up within a short period of time. If you notice that any of the symptoms described below are lingering or interfere with your child’s ability to function, then divorce counseling may be necessary.
- Changes in sleep patterns
- Separation anxiety
- Lack of interest in friends and normal activities
- Excessive lying
- Deteriorating school performance
- Refusal to comply with house rules
- Physical complaints with no obvious cause
- Potty training regression in younger children
- Risky or aggressive behaviors
- Overeating, skipping meals or excessive exercise
- Drug abuse
- Breaking laws