Divorce and your child: 3 warning signs of mental distress

On Behalf of | Dec 23, 2022 | Divorce |

When divorce happens, it can have a serious impact on every member of the family. However, children tend to react differently than adults, and you may notice changes in your child as the divorce proceedings advance.

The National Library of Medicine reports that young adolescents tend to experience negative emotions during their parents’ divorces, but children of any age can suffer negative effects. Learning to identify personality changes in your children may help you intervene early and prevent poor mental health in the future.

1. Grade drops

A marked drop in your children’s grades may indicate divorce-related depression. A reduced grade in their discipline and/or behavior marks is usually a common sign that your kids feel confused, saddened and even angry at the divorce. Reach out to your children’s teachers during your divorce to keep them informed of the situation and improve communication.

2. New bad habits

Your children may cope with divorce by developing new habits. These can range from nail-biting or thumb-sucking in younger kids to smoking or drug abuse in older kids. Children usually turn to regressive or former negative coping behaviors as well, such as carrying blankets or stuffed animals after giving them up months earlier. These habits may reduce or soothe feelings of insecurity, which you can replace with meaningful conversation and increased quality time.

3. Increased anxiety

If your children show signs of new or increased anxiety during divorce, you can rest assured it is not an uncommon problem. Many kids experience insecurity and anxiety during divorce proceedings, especially if they feel the split is their fault. Communicating openly about divorce can reassure young adolescents in particular.

Remaining amicable with your spouse can also reassure children about a post-divorce future, as this may help them realize that neither you nor your ex-spouse will exit their lives in the aftermath.