Divorce is not easy, and it is a highly disturbing time. But if children are involved, it can devastate them and leave long-term effects of divorce on children. The relationship between the child and parent is the closest bond; therefore, they’re the ones who experience immense discomfort from their parent’s separation. They feel like their entire world has turned upside down. The children’s life may change significantly after the divorce of their parents, and there can be psychological effects on children. They’re emotionally affected and experience a range of feelings, such as anger, anxiety, loss, confusion, insecurity, and many more.

During this time, make sure to try the best plans, understand child emotions, be emotionally available to them and take effective steps to reduce the effects of divorce on children.

In this article, I’ll discuss the effects of divorce on children and give tips to lessen these effects and help your children. 

Table of Contents

Effects of divorce on children 

Here are the 13 adverse effects of divorce on children. 

1. They feel anxiety

Children become more tense and anxious after divorce, resulting in increased crying & clinginess. Young kids are more prone to separation anxiety than older ones because they depend highly on their parents. 

2. They go through constant stress and depression

While a child feels intense sadness, they’re at risk of developing constant stress and depression. Parents’ divorce puts immense pressure on the child’s mind, resulting in nightmares and negative thinking. Also, depressed child prefers living alone, and they’re at risk of attempts and suicide threats.

3. They feel angry

Children who experience divorce feel angry about it. However, they’re right in this situation as they’re human. It’s perfectly fine to feel emotions and react, and these emotions arise from a loss of control. Mostly, teenagers give an angry reaction as divorce is interfering with their lives.

4. They suffer from mood swings & irritability

One of the psychological effects of divorce on children is that they become irritable and suffer from mood swings. Their mood changes quickly, and they become grumpy even with familiar people. In addition, some kids prefer spending time alone and going in quiet mode during this period.

5. They may exhibit social and behavioral problems

When the parents are separated or divorced, the child is at risk of exhibiting social and behavioral problems. They have no interest in social events and gatherings, even with friends. Furthermore, they might develop violent behavior because they can lose their temper and show aggression.

6. They might suffer academically

Children from divorced homes suffer academically. They show poor performance in school due to a lack of concentration in their studies. It can restrict their ability to learn, which will result in affecting their career in the long run. 

7. They may become prone to substance abuse

Children who have experienced their parent’s divorce are likely to become substance abusers and engage in drug & alcohol abuse to release frustration and anxiety. It can have long-term damaging effects on children’s well-being.

8. They face relationship troubles

Studies show that children who see their parents being divorced may develop doubts about love & relationship, and they can end up in the same position. Also, they will have trust issues and challenges in entering long-term healthy relationships.

9. They feel guilty 

13 Effects Of Divorce On Children That You Should Know - 9. They Feel Guilty

Children feel that the divorce was their fault and they must have done something wrong due to their parents splitting up. Due to these guilt feelings, they continuously blame themselves, which leads to health problems such as depression and stress.

10. Their routines disturb

Divorce changes the routines of children depending upon their age. Their sleeping & eating patterns change, and they experience difficulty sleeping and loss of hunger, resulting in nightmares and feelings of anxiety.

11. They feel disillusioned and hopeless

One more negative effect of divorce on children is feeling hopeless and disillusioned. Children think they don’t have emotional support & unconditional love from their parents. However, this situation can be worse if the child is just cared for by a single parent.

12. They might pick sides

Divorce causes various conflicts and arguments between partners. It significantly affects the kids because they’re stuck in the middle and don’t know which side they should choose. These conflicts become a reason a child may pick one side and break complete contact with another parent.

13. They may regress if the child is younger

After divorce, you may notice your little ones may revert back to bedwetting, clinginess, and temper tantrums. If it happens, it is a sign of stress on the child and their difficulty adapting to changes. To cope with it, you need to make your kid feel safer in the environment.

Also Read: How To Deal With Parents Divorce In Your 20s

Tips telling your kid about the divorce 

Parents experience a tough time during their divorce, but they must help the children to deal with these psychological effects. It can be difficult to tell your children about divorce, but it is essential to do an open & honest discussion and help your kids. Here are the tips you should try to prevent or reduce these effects and keep your children mentally strong.

  • Don’t keep your divorce secret and reveal it at the last moment. Inform your children 2 to 3 weeks before the divorce process, do an open talk, and keep a plan in mind to answer their questions.
  • Don’t blame the other parent for the divorce, and don’t argue with them in front of your kids.
  • Reassure your children that the separation won’t affect their relationship and make them believe they’re still loved.
  • Your child may go through a range of feelings that are normal. Give them a space to feel their emotions and tell them we’ll go through these feelings together strongly. 
  • Tell your children that the separation isn’t their fault.
  • Spend more time with your children and stay involved because they need your time during this stressful period.
  • If the child appears anxious and depressed, seek professional help.
  • Maintain a healthy routine, especially if your kids are younger.
  • Protect your kids from adult arguments and worries.
  • Work with your former partner to avoid conflicts and develop an amicable relationship with them. It’ll set a good example for your child and be great for their well-being.  

Also Read: How To Ask For A Divorce Peacefully: 9 Things To Consider

Helping your children Cope 

Divorce is not easy; therefore, things can be touchy and tough. As a parent, it’s your responsibility to help them cope with it, and it highly influences them. Encourage your kids to share feelings with you, understand their feelings, and assure them you still love and care for them. In addition, ask them to be involved in events and activities and enjoy themselves with friends.

Furthermore, take good care of yourself and be kind to yourself. You also need to be strong like your kids. Also, it’s OK to show emotions to your kids; it’ll help them open up about their feelings as well. Most importantly, if you feel things are getting complicated and your child is struggling, reach out to help from your support system or mental health professional.

Final Thoughts

Divorce is stressful for everyone involved, and it can negatively affect children. These effects are complex in the first 1-3 years. Parents should try out the tips mentioned above and help their children to cope with this emotional experience. Also, ensure them they’ve your love and complete support regardless of your divorce.

If you feel hopeless and stressed, reach out to me via a free therapy session. Reducing your stress and practicing self-care is essential in this period. Also, if your child is at risk of having behavioral problems and mood issues, therapy may help your child. As a therapist and mental health professional, I would love to help your child work through his emotions and adjust to the changes in your family.

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