The way that children deal with divorce can vary depending on their age. If you have very young children (under the age of 5), the signs of stress are often more difficult to interpret due to their limited communications skills. You and your spouse can learn to recognize the signs of problems in your young children and take steps to minimize the impact that the divorce could have on them. Read on to learn more about the signs of stress in young children and how to deal with it.
Fantasy: Children of this age often deal with the distress of seeing their parents physically split up (one parent packing their bags and moving out to a new home) by envisioning scenarios where their parents are reunited, often through their artwork or storytelling. A kindergarten-age child may actually tell others that they are going on a vacation with both of you together. While it can be tough to be honest, children should be told that while these stories are not real, it is "okay" to play make-believe. It may take these young children time to come to terms with your separation.
Abandonment: A young child could reason that they too could become "divorced" from you. You may notice a child seeking constant reassurances that you aren't going to leave them and move away. A child may fear that you won't be there to pick them up from a playdate or daycare. You may need to step up your efforts to make them feel more secure by communicating with them (by phone or Skype, for example) more often when you have to be away.
Regressive Behaviors: Fear and insecurity can cause children to regress to an earlier age or developmental life-stage, often the most recent. Older, kindergarten age children may go back to babytalk and toilet training could be abandoned. Even young babies can begin to awaken more often during the night after previously sleeping through the night. This is usually temporary and patience should be employed, but family counseling may be in order for severe episodes.
Guilty Feelings: It's not possible to expect a young child to fully understand the complexities of divorce, and most parents try to sugarcoat with vague explanations. Children can become easily confused, oftentimes connecting your adult actions to their minor instances of misbehavior. You may hear a child who is feeling guilty promise to "be a good girl" if mommy and daddy reunite. It's important for the child to know that divorce is about adult behavior and that both parents will continue to be there for them.
While family counseling can help with these issues, the most valuable asset you can provide is your love, patience and understanding while your child works through these behaviors. Your divorce attorney will serve as an invaluable resource for making sure that your divorce becomes final with as little acrimony as possible.Share
10 November 2015
My name is Laura, and I am an attorney specializing in helping clients leave violent marriages. The law can help victims be safe, but many potential clients cannot afford legal services and may be afraid to pursue divorce. They may not be aware of services that have been created to keep them hidden from violent ex-partners and to help them be awarded assets in a divorce so they can provide for themselves and their families. I hope to raise awareness of these issues as well as help direct people in danger to facilities where they can receive guidance and financial assistance.