Going through a divorce is not easy. It can become even more stressful when your child begins to exhibit behaviors that are entirely unlike them. A well-behaved, happy child might suddenly become irritable and angry. Straight-A students might start struggling in school.
It is natural for you to worry about your children. Here are a few critical things to know, so you can mitigate that worry and help them through this time.
First: Know that this is not unusual
It is common for children of any age to act out during and after their parents’ divorce. Even if the divorce is amicable, children might still:
- Display anger or frustration
- Rebel against parents
- Experience serious mood swings
Divorce brings big changes for the whole family. When children act out or behave differently, it is often the way they cope with these changes and their confusing emotions.
So, what can you do to help them?
Being aware of how children might react and behave during this time is the first step to helping your child navigate their emotional response to the divorce. However, some other steps North Carolina parents can take to support them include:
- Establishing time and a safe environment to discuss their child’s feelings and why they are acting out
- Seeking help from a mental health counselor and obtaining other resources for emotional support
- Watching out for signs of more serious mental health issues, such as withdrawing, reverting and weight loss or gain
It often helps in these cases for co-parents to be on the same page. If you have concerns about your child’s wellbeing, you should reach out to your ex-spouse, so both of you can plan how you will move forward to support and protect your child.
Another step? Making divorce child-centered
Children acting out during their parents’ divorce is not a sign of failure. It will take time for everyone to get accustomed to the reality of the divorce and your child’s behavior can often reflect that process.
Your child’s reaction is not something you can control. However, focusing on a child-centered divorce at every step – before, during and after the finalization – can help to provide them with the support they need to work through their emotions.