When parents get divorced, it is hard on their kids. Adjusting to life in two homes and spending time with parents separately can take a toll on the whole family.
Several sources report about the psychological effects a divorce can have on children. These effects are real, but the children of divorced parents usually develop into healthy and successful adults, just like any other child. However, that does not mean that there are no obstacles along the way. Parents should be aware of certain behaviors that children commonly exhibit during divorce. That way, they can take action to give their children the help and support they need during this stressful time.
1. Extreme emotional changes and outbursts
Divorce is an emotionally taxing process for everyone involved. And it is common for children to feel a complicated mix of emotions, including sadness, confusion and anger. These difficult emotions are common, but parents should be on the lookout for:
- Excessive anger or acting out, especially in older children
- Rebellious or impulsive behaviors that were not present before the divorce
- Extreme anxiety interfering with the child’s daily life
- Sadness and outbursts of crying or symptoms of depression
- Intense mood swings between these emotions
Children could develop longer-lasting mental health issues if these emotions go unaddressed.
2. Severe changes in physical health
These extreme emotional responses can also have a significant impact on a child’s physical health. Stress often manifests itself in a lack of appetite or overeating. Therefore, it is not uncommon for children to experience either considerable weight loss or weight gain during and after a divorce.
Children themselves might not even be aware of how their emotional response impacts their physical health. So, it is often up to parents to recognize these concerns.
3. Regressing as a comfort
According to Parents magazine, children of different ages often react differently to their parents’ divorce. A common reaction for younger children is to regress in their behavior. For example, a 3-year-old might start sucking their thumb again, or a 10-year-old might start acting more immature than their age calls for.
Psychologically, these behaviors are a source of comfort that children can find security in during this time of extreme change in their life.
Parents: Be aware of your child’s emotions throughout the divorce
Every child is different, and not every child will experience these reactions to their parents’ divorce. However, both parents should make sure they stay aware of how their children are feeling during the divorce.
It is easy to get wrapped up in all of the details and complex issues involved in divorce. But simply talking about a child’s emotions and thoughts about the situation can be a big step in managing these behaviors effectively.