Divorce is not an easy decision for any parent. Mothers and fathers do not want to uproot their kids or cause them any type of stress. However, the fact is that some marriages do end. And when they do, such a change may affect children.
Some children can adapt a little easier. This often happens if they are too young to know what is happening or they are old enough to appreciate the value in ending an unfulfilling relationship. However, some children have a more difficult time responding to divorce. In fact, children ages 7-14 are reportedly more likely to experience behavioral and emotional problems after divorce.
Understanding the data
This information comes from London researchers who examined data on the mental health of 6,245 children ages three to fourteen.
According to their findings, children who experienced divorce between ages 7 and 14 were more likely than younger children to exhibit anxiety and other emotional problems, as well as conduct disorders including disobedience.
There are various suggestions for why this might be. Children of this age are old enough to understand what is happening, but they are too young to necessarily understand why it is happening. They can also be struggling with their own transition from childhood to adolescence, which can be an incredibly confusing time on its own. Further, a divorce can cause greater disruption in their daily lives.
Helping your child through this difficult time
If you have children in this age group, it is crucial that you are particularly sensitive to your child’s needs and the toll a divorce may be taking on them. Most importantly, you should:
- Prioritize peaceful, amicable divorce solutions like collaborative practice or mediation to minimize high-conflict and high-stress situations
- Keep communication open with your child
- Focus on what is best for him or her when it comes to matters like child custody and relocation
- Try to avoid unnecessary disruptions to your child’s routine and daily schedule
- Consider having your child speak with a counselor or therapist
Knowing that children at this age are especially affected by divorce can help parents be more mindful and compassionate when it comes resolving divorce-related matters.