Signs Your Child is Acting Out After Divorce
Divorce affects children. Even if you are an attentive, caring and alert parent, children of all ages display signs of stress in the weeks, months and years that follow their parents’ separation and divorce. There is a wide range of what is considered to be a normal reaction to this change in life circumstance. If your child is acting out and you are not certain if outside intervention is necessary, ask your physician, divorce attorney or local child welfare office for a referral to a licensed mental health professional.
Here are a few warning signs that your child might need some additional support, as well as some tips:
- Toddlers – While babies do not understand separation or divorce, they do notice how parents interact with them. If parents are exhibiting signs of distress, a toddler might become unusually clingy, exhibit changes in eating and sleeping habits, develop separation anxiety or reject one parent. These phases usually pass and toddlers are quick to adjust to new arrangements.
- School-age children – Children find divorce confusing, and younger children may develop signs of regression, such as bed-wetting, a desire to sleep with the parent or tantrums. Older children might show signs of depression or anxiety such as phobias, fear of being alone, and loss of enjoyment of school, activities or friends. Children respond well to play therapy and the chance to act out their anger, fear and confusion through their play. Consult with the child’s teachers and try a few different therapeutic methods to find a modality that works.
- Teenagers – As children enter the teen years, acting out becomes more dangerous. Teens might shoplift, vandalize, fight, use drugs or alcohol, or self-mutilate. If a teenager shows a loss of interest in friends or school or exhibits changes in eating or sleeping habits, seek intervention immediately.
If you are divorcing, you can help minimize the impact your divorce has on your kids by keeping alert to your child's mood and creating a solid parenting plan with your ex. A skilled divorce attorney can help you. Call the Buffalo, NY Law Offices of Randy S. Margulis and Associates at 716.886.9600 or contact us online.