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Minimizing the Impact of Divorce on Children

Helping kids cope: Impact of Divorce mitigation

Divorce is a difficult time for children, but there are steps you can take to help them cope. Learn how to minimize the impact of divorce on your kids.

Overview

Choosing to separate or divorce is a decision that adults make, but it’s important to recognize that it can have lasting effects on children. When parents with children go through a divorce, it can impact the parent-child relationship, the children’s educational achievements, the overall health of adults throughout their lives, and their emotional well-being in the long run.

Parents have the power to chart a positive course and seek professional support to assist their children in adapting to the challenges of divorce. Timely and effective therapy can help ease the impact—though it may not erase it entirely—for both parents and the children navigating through this difficult time.

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Key points

Even when divorce is the necessary choice, it deeply impacts the children involved

Divorce can have a lasting effect on children, even when both parents stay involved. The changes that come with the end of their parents’ relationship can profoundly affect a child, sometimes in ways they and their parents might not fully grasp right away. Emotional ups and downs, disruptions in academics, challenges in social interactions, and even physical health issues may arise for children in the aftermath of their parents’ divorce.

Children can respond to divorce in different ways

Children impacted by divorce may show signs of developmental regression or changes in behavior, while others may quietly struggle.

Each child responds uniquely to divorce, influenced by factors such as their age, emotional maturity, and the support available to them. When a child’s behavior outwardly changes, it’s often easier to recognize the need for assistance and take action. Because of this, it is equally important to understand that some children may continue with their daily routines as if everything is normal despite the emotional turmoil they are feeling. In both situations, it’s crucial to provide the necessary support for children of divorce to process their emotions healthily and move forward with their lives as smoothly as possible.

Mother and daughter holding hands by the ocean at sunset. Shows how with therapy parents can support their children minimize the impact of divorce.

7 signs your child may be struggling with your divorce

Even though many children of divorce may not openly express their challenges, it’s important to pay attention to more noticeable signs. Some clear indicators that your child or teenager might be finding it difficult to cope with the divorce include:

Separation anxiety: Children experiencing divorce might start resisting going to school or share negative thoughts about any activity that briefly separates their parents from them.

Defiant and attention-seeking behavior: Children might show defiant and attention-seeking behavior, such as tantrums and crying, as they grapple with the stress of divorce. They may find it challenging to manage their emotions and behaviors.

Risk-taking behaviors: Teens impacted by divorce might be drawn to trying out risky behaviors such as staying out late or experimenting with alcohol or drugs. These actions can sometimes be outlets for processing emotions or a way to test if their parents will stick around given this poor display of behavior.

Regressive behaviors: Children may exhibit regressive behaviors such as bedwetting, thumb-sucking, tantrums, or resisting bedtime as they grapple with feelings of insecurity about their role in the world after their parents’ divorce.

Physical symptoms: Children might express physical discomfort, such as headaches or stomach aches, seemingly without a clear cause. These complaints can often be linked to the emotional distress they’re experiencing from the divorce.

Depression and anxiety: It’s not unusual for children of divorce to experience feelings of depression or anxiety after their parents’ separation. They may find it challenging to navigate and process their emotions independently during this time.

Self-blame: Children often mistakenly blame themselves for their parents’ divorce, feeling an overwhelming sense of guilt and shame as they ruminate about their perceived role in the situation.

How therapy can help minimize the impact of divorce

In many instances, adults going through a divorce are navigating their own emotional journey and adjusting to a new reality. They might not have all the tools needed to support their children during this time. Therapy becomes a crucial ally in helping children deal with the difficulties and changes linked to their parents’ divorce. It provides a safe and supportive space where children of all ages can express themselves and process their emotions in a healthy manner.

Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) has been shown to help ease anxiety for kids and young adults going through their parents’ divorce. It supports them in adapting to new situations more swiftly. Therapy also helps children understand that the divorce isn’t their fault, addressing any unwarranted guilt they might be feeling.

Professional therapy not only builds but also strengthens the sometimes tense relationship between parents and children that can come with divorce. A skilled therapist can offer guidance to parents on providing positive emotional support to their children during this challenging time. They can also help reassure the child about their sense of security with their parent in their life.

The skills gained in therapy offer children and their parents valuable tools to help them bounce back from the pain of divorce as swiftly as possible. Therapy also contributes to building a stronger parent-child relationship for the long haul.

Reach out today

If you are contemplating or going through the divorce process and need guidance for yourself, your spouse, or your children reach out to Couples Therapy Services today. We offer expert counseling for couples, parents of young children, blended families, and more throughout the state of New Jersey.