As a parent considering divorce, it is natural to worry about how divorce affects kids. When going through a divorce, it is important to pay attention. Your kids will go through a range of emotions. While you want to be there for them, they may struggle with how to cope.
If you see behavior changes in your children, address their behavior from a place of love and openness. Any of the following behavior changes may occur in your children when you are a parent going through a divorce.
1. Acting out at School
If you have school-aged children, you will not see them all the time. They may be on their best behavior at home, but act out at school. This can appear as falling grades, getting into fights, or other disciplinary issues. This can be frustrating to you and to your child’s teachers.
Please don’t ignore these changes. Sometimes counseling can help. Most importantly, though, take the time to sit and talk openly with your kids about their feelings concerning the divorce, but do not involve them in issues between you and your spouse. Divorce affects kids in many ways, and taking the time to show compassion makes a difference. Address their behavior but let them talk about their feelings as well.
2. Hiding Feelings
Sometimes kids shrink away from their problems when their parents are divorcing because they are trying to avoid their parent’s conflicts. They may blame themselves for the divorce and hide their feelings.
If you see your children becoming less expressive and withdrawing emotionally, make an effort to engage them. Although it is unwise to force the issue, the more open you are with them, the more comfortable they will be opening up to you. Tell them and show them that you love them no matter what.
3. Manipulative Behavior
A normal aspect of childhood behavior is manipulation. This can come in the form of pitting parents against each other or even lying about what one parent said. When parents are divorcing, this can become even more likely. When you and your spouse don’t trust each other, it can be harder for you to recognize the children’s manipulations.
Communication is critical. It’s time to set aside parental differences and learn to communicate with each other as well as with your children during this stressful time for everyone in the family. Let your kids know that you are working together because both parents love them. Not only can this help curb a child’s acting-out behavior, but it helps you and your spouse stay connected to your kids.
4. Anxiety Issues
Stress and anxiety lie at the root of many of these issues. Changes in residence, worries about custody, and splitting time between their parents are major stressors. These can bring out not only social signals but some health concerns as well. If your kids are struggling with weight gain or loss, high blood pressure, or other physical changes, you should address them as potentially related.
The more you do to show your kids love and support, the more you can limit the negative effects of divorce on your children. If you or your children need help navigating the divorce process, contact one of the licensed mental health professionals at Best Legal Choices today.