Children and Divorce: When is Counseling Necessary?

Divorce | Divorce Advice for Children

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
  • Self-harm
  • Breaking laws

Impact Upon the Family
When your child exhibits challenging behaviors due to the divorce, it often spills over into the entire family. Here are a few signs that you may notice in yourself and your other children.

  • Missed work time due to school and home conflicts
  • Feelings of anger or exhaustion due to your child’s behavior
  • Lack of sleep due to excessive worry
  • Falling behind on necessary household tasks
  • Expressions of concern from family, friends and teachers
  • Increased sibling rivalry that disrupts family life
  • Fear of losing control
  • Constant feelings of guilt regarding the divorce

When a child has trouble coping with divorce, they may not always verbalize their feelings. Often, children lash out with their behavior as an attempt to signal their negative emotions. Fortunately, counseling can help children learn how to accept a divorce while channeling their behavior into a positive direction. By recognizing your child’s need for additional support, you can turn your divorce into an opportunity for personal growth while reinforcing your family bond.