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Children’s reactions to divorce manifest emotionally, physically

All responsible divorcing parents want to minimize the effect of their break-up on their children. Nonetheless, it’s impossible for a child not to be affected by the fact that their parents are no longer living together and that they’ll be dividing their time between them. Young children, in particular, are often most concerned with how their lives will change.

It’s no wonder that even resilient kids can have behavioral issues – especially in the first year. Sometimes these arise out of anxiety, a feeling of lack of control or a need for attention. Sometimes they develop issues with their physical health as well. Emotional and physical health are closely tied together.

The better that co-parents can work together to monitor, share and address changes in their child’s mental and physical well-being, the better they can address any issues before they become long-term problems. Even if it’s challenging for you to communicate directly in an amicable way, you can use a parenting app to keep a shared journal devoted exclusively to your child.

Some common issues among children of divorcing parents

Any issue that’s new or that becomes considerably worse is something that of course you should monitor and address with a therapist and/or physician. However, some issues are more common than others for children whose parents are separating or divorcing. These include:

  • Increased anger or irritability, which can manifest in behavioral issues around the house, at school or in other settings
  • Increased crying or other signs of sadness, depression and anxiety
  • Insomnia, nightmares or other sleep issues
  • Changes in eating habits, including not eating, eating too much or not being willing to eat healthy foods they once enjoyed
  • Becoming more prone to illness

While, as noted, these are all relatively common reactions of children to divorce, they shouldn’t continue for too long unaddressed. It’s always wise to bring them to your pediatrician’s attention as well as your child’s therapist if they have one.

By getting through your divorce as efficiently and amicably as possible, you and your co-parent can better help your child adjust to their new normal. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t seek the agreements you deserve. That’s why having sound legal guidance is crucial.