If you and your partner are going through a divorce, it’s likely that one of the most significant concerns that you will be facing is how this will impact your child. Each year in the UK, thousands of children are affected by the divorce of their parents but, just because it may be a common experience, this does not make it any easier for the children involved.
You may be feeling concerned about how your divorce will be impacting on your child’s wellbeing, and it’s only normal that you might feel a little bit confused by their coping mechanisms.
For them, as it is for you, the divorce will mean a massive upheaval in their life as they know it, which will cause grief for the loss of their previous life, as well as stress and anxiety at the changes that they are now having to accommodate.
You should not make yourself feel guilty about this – your child will be ok and they will gradually show signs of emotional improvement. There are, also, plenty of things that you can do to help support them along the way, as they grieve and navigate this unanticipated change.
In this blog, I will be providing you with some advice for you to support your child’s emotional well-being during your divorce in the best way that you can. This will include some typical, normal (possibly including some pretty wicked temper tantrums!) responses that your child may be showing, as well as key things that you can do to help alleviate those feelings.
Children, by their nature, will react to a situation in all kinds of different ways. This could involve anything from huge bursts of anger, right the way through to no visible reaction at all. These reactions can also switch, depending on the day or their current mood.
Ultimately, you and your partner know your child better than anyone, so trust yourself and your instincts. Keep an eye on their behaviour, and see whether you notice anything that seems different, or a regression to behaviours that they had when they were younger (for example, sucking their thumbs, or big blowout tantrums).
It’s natural that you might be left feeling a little concerned about this wide spectrum of emotions.
So, below, we’ve listed just a few of the most common different reactionary behaviours that you can expect (and, don’t worry, they’re all perfectly normal), and a brief explanation for your child’s thought pattern underpinning them.
It might be hard for you to witness, but in reality, these emotions are all perfectly normal ways that children will get through the shock and upheaval caused by their parents getting divorced.
In the next section, we will take a look at some of the things that you can do to significantly ease this transition period for your child, helping them cope better with the situation that they are facing.
While it is perfectly normal for your child to be experiencing heightened emotions during this period (and it is important that you don’t dismiss any of these feelings) in order to help your child deal with the situation in the most healthy way possible, there are lots of things that you can do. The ideas that we’ve laid out below are just some of the ways that you can support your child during this period.
If your child reaches a certain emotional point, however, and gives you a sincere cause for concern, then you might require further help. Persistent or worsening sadness could be a form of depression. So if you find that these things aren’t helping the situation over time, then it might be wise to speak to your GP, and they can then refer your child to the Child and Mental Health Service (CAMHS).
Signs to look out for that may denote depression include a change in how they’re performing academically at school, struggling to concentrate, withdrawing from their loved ones, not enjoying their favourite activities any more, constantly feeling tired and repeatedly saying things like, for example, ‘I wish I was never born’.
It may take some time, but continue to provide your child with all of the support and love that they need, and they will soon work through these feelings; rest assured, you will see improvement in their behaviours over time.
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