4 common ways kids deal with divorce
Written by Craig Cherney

4 common ways kids deal with divorce

Like adults, children can really struggle with divorce. Also, just as all children are different in their personalities and temperaments, kids deal with divorce in a variety of ways. While some behaviors may seem out of the ordinary for your child, the way your kids deal with divorce is likely perfectly normal, given the situation. Here’s a look at some of the many ways kids deal with divorce and what you can do to make it easier on them.

Acting Out at School

This is a common way that kids deal with divorce. When you and your partner are struggling over the details of your divorce, it can be easy to forget that your children need extra attention during this difficult time. This is not to say that you are neglecting them but rather that you may simply not realize how hard of a time they are having.

When kids aren’t getting the attention they need at home, they can rebel in other situations. In most cases, acting out at school is simply a cry for attention. If your child was normally well-behaved at school, this could be a sign that they are struggling with the divorce. Take the time to sit down with your child and talk to them about their feelings. Let them be open and honest and reassure them that whatever they are feeling is all right.

Preferring One Parent over the Other

When kids deal with divorce, it is also common for them to suddenly show a preference for one parent. They may even refuse to spend time with the other parent, even though there was never an issue in the past. Children can pick up on the animosity between the two of you. As a result, they may avoid a parent who is exhibiting stress and other negative emotions as a means of protecting themselves. Also, they may attempt to protect an emotional parent and blame the other parent for causing the pain. Both parents must remind their children that they are going to be fine, they are strong, and kids don’t need to care for parents.

Do your best not to speak negatively of your spouse in front of your kids, no matter what you are feeling. After the divorce, your ex will likely remain in your children’s lives as the two of you co-parent, and you don’t want to sour the relationship. That will only make the split harder on your kids.

Having Imaginary Friends

Many children have imaginary friends, and this is completely normal behavior. However, you may be concerned if your child suddenly develops an imaginary friend during your divorce when they never had one before. This may be perfectly normal as well. Your child may feel as though they have no one they can talk to about their feelings. An imaginary friend gives them a safe outlet for feelings they may be ashamed of or issues they need to work through.

It may help to take your child to see a counselor to help them talk about what is bothering them or seek out a children’s divorce group. This can really help kids deal with divorce more easily. Many kids are more comfortable opening up to someone outside the situation than they are their own parents. Of course, there is no replacement for having honest, compassionate conversations with your child yourself, but a counselor can help facilitate these discussions.

Rebelling Against Normal Routines

When kids deal with divorce, it is a major disruption to their normal lives. This can often lead them to fight back against things they used to do with no trouble. This can include things like brushing their teeth, doing chores, completing their homework, and other common tasks. They may believe if they are disruptive, the two of you will get frustrated, have to work together and get back together.

The best way to help your kids deal with divorce so that they are prepared to accept a new “normal” is to reassure them as much as you can. Although things will be different for a while, they will get used to them eventually. Children are remarkably resilient when given the love and support they need, so focus on helping your child feel safe and confident.

Make Your Divorce Easier on Your Kids

Divorce is always hard, especially on kids, but the collaborative process can help your kids deal with divorce more easily. Reach out to one of the professionals Best Legal Choices today to learn more about collaborative divorce.