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How does divorce affect children? What you may have to deal with

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Divorce is not an easy step or one that can be taken lightly.

However once a marital separation has been established, this will dramatically shift the dynamics of the child’s relationship with their parents. When told this news many children will feel arrange of emotions such as: sadness, anger and anxiety. Some will find it hard just grasping how their lives will no longer be the same.

How Divorce effect Babies from Birth to 18 months is the most crucial time of development for your child. If there is tension within the household the child will be able to pick up on it, even if they are not able to fully understand why. This could result in the Child regressing or show signs of developmental delay. Often babies may become irritable, clingy and emotional outbursts.
Because children at this age need routine and find a level of comfort from familiarity.  It is essential to try and keep any level of normality and routine, mainly regarding sleep and eating during this process. Provide your child with “security items” (toys, blankets, books, songs etc.). Also spend extra time holding them as physical contact can cause comfort. And don’t forget to rest as you need to be is the best shape to look after them.

Toddlers from 18 months to 3 years old children will bond with their parents and any major disruption may be difficult to understand and accept. At this age children are self-centred and may think that they caused their parents breakup. This could cause your child to want more attention than normal and will often feel sad. Having a fear of being abandoned is a real issue.
To help support the child parents should work together to develop a level of normality, produce a routine that the child can follow easily. It is important for the child to spend time with both parents and offer extra attention when needed. It is important to talk to the child and find out how they are feeling in general, and assure it is not their fault that this has happened.

3 to 6 year olds will not fully understand what divorce is and will not want their parents to separate (even if the environment is not good at home). This whole process will be a difficult concept for them to understand as the will have no control of this matter. They could also believe that they could be the one to blame for the separation. They may feel overwhelmed with not knowing about the future, keep their anger trapped inside, have unpleasant thoughts/ideas and sometimes suffer from nightmares.
Parents need to have an open dialogue to create a positive manner around this life change. Try and be there to allow them to freely express themselves, answer any questions they may have, and try and not create conflict between the other parents. Children need to feel safe and to know they will continue their other parent. Regular visitation will need to be scheduled and be consistent.

6 to 11 year olds can also feel that they are being abandoned during a divorce as they may feel that they are divorcing them too. They worry about losing their other parent and sometime fantasize that their parents will get back together. They can often feel that they can fix their parents relationship. They can often show the same emotional fragility as children between 3-6 but as they are older they may show more complex emotions. Ensure you take the time to talk to the child and find out their needs and wants. Children from 8 to 11 may blame one parent for the separation and align themselves with the other parent. Some will accuse one of the parents of being selfish or mean. They may express their disapproval and anger to their parents. Boys will normally want to fight others and lash out, and Girl can become anxious/ depressed. However this is not exclusive to gender this is down to the individual on how they will deal with this type of stress, as children of either gender may experience upset stomachs or headaches due to stress, or may make up symptoms in order to stay home from school.
Although you are going through a tough time during the divorce process you need to remember that this will affect your child and you will need to take the time to open the lines of communication to ensure they are doing okay with the new life that they will have. Be a support and make sure they know that this will not change the way you or your ex-partner feel about your child.

If you would like some support in your divorce or help with childcare arrangements fell free to contact us directly via our email address or give us a call on 02077379330.