Divorce is hard on everyone involved, and the effects on children, specifically, can be significant. Even during a low-conflict divorce, a child may struggle academically, relationship-wise and behavior-wise.
Fortunately, there can be a decrease of negative effects if both parents handle the divorce in a certain way.
The effects of divorce on children
According to Psychology Today, divorce has varying effects on children, depending on their ages. They may experience feelings of abandonment, anger, confusion and loneliness. Feelings are even more intense if a child has to move to a different house or school.
Although the negative effects, such as irritability, anxiety, sleeping issues, social withdrawal, academic problems and behavior issues, usually last only one or two years, divorce can have long-lasting consequences. In addition, most of the long-lasting effects occur when there is conflict and tension between the two parents.
How to help children adjust
According to the Mayo Clinic, parents play a major role in how a child reacts to the divorce. Both parents should tell the child together that they are getting a divorce and let the child know that it has nothing to do with her or him. Both mom and dad should treat each other with respect and reiterate their love towards the child. Parents should be open to all of the child’s emotions and answer questions as honestly as possible.
It is important that the parents remain amicable and cooperate when it comes to parenting. This means not speaking negatively about the other parent, not arguing in front of the child and not asking the child to pick sides. Rules and consequences should also remain constant and similar in both households, as children succeed when they have routine and structure.
Because divorce is difficult, both mom and dad, as well as other family members and teachers, should pay attention to any negative changes. Talking them over with the child or getting family counseling can help prevent the issues from getting worse.