Divorce is a special event for the whole family that usually turns the lives of each family upside down. It largely affects children who do not always understand the situation, and often even blame themselves for the separation of their parents. How does the news of a parent’s divorce affect a child’s psyche? How to prepare a child for separation and help him find himself in the new reality?
How does parental divorce affect the child?
Divorce is an experience that always affects children to a greater or lesser extent, regardless of their age. After all, this is a turning point in their lives, because from now on it will completely change and will never be the same again. Each child is different, so it is difficult to predict how he will cope with the situation in which he finds himself. The response of young children is usually regressive, and of adolescents aggressive, though not always of course.
Due to severe stress and frustration with the event, the child’s defense mechanisms may be activated. This is due to the fact that the child is not able to accurately express what he is feeling because he simply does not understand what is happening. This is how the little one expresses his anger and anxiety. During this time, you may notice a return to the behaviors from which the child has already outgrown. There may, for example, be problems with sleep or the expectation of an adult’s help, even when performing the simplest activities.
Older children most often react with aggression to their parents’ divorce. They disregard their parents’ requests, rebel and do everything in spite of it. They want to show their adulthood and, as much as possible, become independent from their parents, to make them realize that they do not need them at all.
The impact of the parents' separation on the child's psyche and behavior
In the face of parents’ divorce, a child first of all loses the sense of security. It is often difficult for him to believe what happened and he deludes that it is only temporary, and the parents will eventually get back together and everything will be as before. Wishful thinking occurs and passes faster in adolescents than in young children. Good parental contact after the breakup can, unfortunately, additionally fuel illusory hopes.
Once your child has been informed about the divorce, the child may need more care than before. He may experience sleep problems, crying at night, wetting the bed, and bouts of hysteria during the day. A child can be torn by various extreme emotions, in an instant it can be happy and laughing, and in a moment it can burst into tears.
Children attending school may have difficulty concentrating and memory problems. A child who has enjoyed learning so far may stop doing homework and get ready for classes. Due to the sheer volume of emotions, she can simply stop coping with the daily duties that will completely overwhelm her.
Child and divorce - how to help a child in the face of separation of parents?
Although we ourselves try to provide the child with the necessary support and care during this difficult time for the whole family, unfortunately it may not be enough. Therefore, when we notice that divorce and family situation have a negative impact on the child, affect its health and well-being or academic performance, it is advisable to consult a psychologist.
You will probably need therapy, but a decision about it will be made only after the first consultation with a psychologist. A child psychologist will advise on the best form of therapy, whether the child should attend it alone or, for example, together with one or both parents.
For those who want to consult a psychologist as soon as possible, but temporarily do not have the time or the opportunity to make an appointment at the clinic, an online psychological consultation may be a solution. It is also a good option for people who want to remain anonymous or value discretion. An online psychologist can advise you on how best to help your child cope with their parents’ divorce.