How Children React to Divorce

A recent statistic shows that almost half of all marriages end in divorce. Divorce is difficult for everyone involved, but maybe the hardest on children. Most often they experience many feelings that they do not understand. They go through a range of emotions and need their parents to understand. If you are going through a divorce getting to understand how your children are dealing with it is important.

When parents divorce they often put their children in the center of arguments and a game of emotional tug of war. To avoid this sort of thing parents need to work together. Even though their marriage is over they are still parents together. The child needs to understand many things about the divorce. Parents need to keep in touch with their children and understand the many feelings they may be having. Older children, especially, can go through periods where they act out as a way to cope with the divorce. Many times children feel the divorce is their fault. They may worry about the future and how to deal with other events, like parent’s day at school. Both parents need to show the children that they can work together and not fight. At the same time it is important to let the children know that you are not getting back together. Establishing some sort of family structure is a necessity to help children get back to normal.

Children will react different depending on their age. The following list explains a little about each age group and how they react to divorce.

Age 3-5: Regression to a more infantile state, problems sleeping, fear of separation

Age 6-8: Fantasies of parents getting back together, open emotions

Age 8-11: Anger, treat one parent as good the other as bad, take a caregiver role

Age 12-18: Depression, violent actions, judgmental of parents, develop anxiety about own relationships

Learning to help your children cope through divorce is possible the most important step in the divorce process. Children have no choice in the matter and may feel completely left out if their feelings are not recognized.

Posted in: Effects of Divorce on Children

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