Behavioral Issues In Children of Divorced ParentsDivorce can be a source of stress and challenge for a family unit. It can be difficult to create new dynamics within the family as children begin to spend time with their parents separately. It can be difficult for parents who worry about how divorce will affect their children. With all the change that comes with divorce, it is not uncommon for children to have behavior issues during their parents’ divorce. Children may react in different ways depending on their age and development. Young children may struggle to understand why they have to go back and forth between homes. They may worry that if their parents stopped loving each other then there is the possibility that their parents will stop loving them someday. Grade school children may worry that the divorce is their fault. They may believe that they misbehaved or did something wrong that caused their parents to fight and separate. Older teens often feel angry about divorce and the changes it creates. If they are close to one parent, they may blame or resent the other.
Common Behavioral Issues
- Withdrawing Socially: Children who were outgoing may become shy or anxious. They may avoid social situations or spending time with friends. They may experience a drop in confidence or self-esteem.
- School Struggles: Kids may experience a drop in academics during a divorce. They could be feeling neglected, depressed, or distracted by events at home.
- Separation Anxiety: Younger children may show signs of separation anxiety, which may look like increased crying or clinging to parents.
- Regression: Younger children may experience behavioral regressions such as clinginess or temper tantrums. Regression may be a sign of increased stress if they are having difficulty with the transition.
- Picking Sides: During divorce, children go through both cognitive dissonance and a conflict with loyalty. They may feel stuck in the middle or that they need to choose a side.
- Depression: Children often feel sad about the divorce, but studies have shown that children of divorces are at risk of developing clinical depression. This is more prominent with children11 years and older.
- Engaging in Risky Behaviors: Alcohol and drug abuse and aggressive behavior are possible. They may also experience their own relationship struggles as they work to find healthy romantic relationships.
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