Divorce can be difficult on children, requiring many adjustments. The battle over child custody may alter their living arrangements, as well as inflict various traumatic emotions. For some children, this may manifest itself in acting out at school or home, behaving badly in public, or constantly being on edge and crying for no apparent reason. There may, for some, be changes in eating or sleeping patterns.
Every child whose parents are going through a divorce will get upset and emotional about it at some point, whether this is openly expressed or is kept more hidden. Each child is a little bit different and has a somewhat different style of coping with change. A child will experience some level of grief for the past family life that cannot ever be exactly the same again.
Children may understandably also experience some level of insecurity, wondering if they will still be taken care of with the same reliability as before, and whether they will still have both parents’ love and approval.
The age of a child is an important factor in determining what the warnings signs may be that the child is upset with the new circumstances. Among very young children 18 months old or younger, danger signs may include lack of responsiveness, slower growth, or lack of weight gain.
Those from the 18 month old age group to around three years old, these danger signs can include regressive behavior such as tantrums or bed wetting. Preschoolers in the three to five year old age group can verbalize their feelings more and can be talked to in more detail about what is going on, given reassurance that they are not to blame for the divorce and will not be abandoned by either parent.
As children are older, more complex emotions and issues come to the forefront, and children can be encouraged to express their feelings, establish new routines, and give their own input into plans for visitation and similar issues.
Source: Huffington Post, “Does my child need therapy?” Marsha Temlock, Sept. 14, 2012