A divorce can be extremely tough on children. A couples counselling service can help show you how to lend comfort - not confusion - to an already difficult situation.


Anyone who has been through a divorce will tell you that ending a marriage is extremely painful, even if it is the right thing to do.

However, for your children, your separation can be devastating, which is why it’s important to be very careful when breaking the news.

Services such as couples or family counselling or seeing a divorce lawyer to help create a concise separation agreement can help cushion the blow and ensure that everyone involved successfully adjusts to the reality of the divorce.

 

Talking To Your Child About Divorce: Age-by-Age Guide

Divorce represents a significant shift in a child’s world, no matter their age. Many tend to feel sad, angry or anxious.

While family counselling sessions can help a child successfully grasp how their lives will change, a child’s age will have a big impact on how he/she responds to the separation and to the new family structure.

Here are some tips on what children comprehend at different ages and how you can help ease their transition:

Birth to 18 Months

During infancy, babies can sense the tension in the home but are unable to understand the reason behind the conflict.

If this tension continues, babies may become:

  • Irritable
  • Clingy
  • Emotional with frequent outbursts

What you can do: At this young age, children require routine and consistency to feel comfortable and safe. Make sure to maintain normal daily routines, especially regarding sleep and meals, during and after the divorce.

18 Months to 3 Years

During these formative years, a child’s main bond is with their parents so any major disruptions in the home can be difficult to accept or understand.

Children at this stage may:

  • Think they are the cause of the divorce
  • Cry or want more attention than usual
  • Have trouble sleeping alone at night
  • Resist toilet training

What you can do: Work together with your ex-spouse to develop normal, predictable routines your child can follow easily. In addition, make sure that the separation agreement allows each parent to spend quality time with the child and offer extra attention.

3 to 6 Years

Preschoolers also have a difficult time comprehending the idea of a divorce and it can be particularly difficult for them because they have no control over the outcome.

Children at this age may:

  • Believe they are responsible for the separation
  • Experience uncertain feelings about the future
  • Keep their anger trapped inside
  • Have nightmares

What you can do: Couples counselling can help parents handle the divorce in an open, positive manner. This is important because children at this age tend to mimic their parents moods and attitudes. In addition, make sure the separation agreement has set up a regular visitation schedule and adhere to it consistently.

 

6 to 11 Years

If school-age kids have grown up in a nurturing environment, it’s only natural for them to have a fear of being abandoned during a separation.

Children at this age tend to:

  • Blame one parent for the separation
  • Fantasize that their parents will get back together
  • Accuse their parents of being mean and/or selfish
  • Become aggressive, anxious or withdrawn

What you can do: Family counselling can help rebuild a child’s sense of security and self-esteem. Take this time to reassure him/her that neither parent will leave and reiterate that the divorce is not their fault.

Teenagers

Teenagers are not immune to the effects of divorce and can act out in several ways if their parents are getting a separation.

Teenagers of divorcing parents can become:

  • More aggressive
  • Anxious, depressed or withdrawn
  • More sexually active at a younger age
  • Dependent on drugs and/or alcohol

What you can do: Family counselling is crucial if you have a teenager and are going through a separation. This can help teenagers deal with any emotional, mental or physical issues they have as a result of the separation and help them become better-adjusted to their new situation.

At this stage it’s very important to be flexible with your parenting schedule as other commitments including those to friends, extracurricular activities and jobs are crucial to a teenager’s sense of well-being.

Separation Agreements & Parenting Plans

With the help of an experienced divorce lawyer, it is important to draft out a comprehensive separation agreement as this will make the divorce process much more straight-forward and ensure that the best interests of you and your child are protected.

A parenting plan is a crucial component of the separation agreement and is important because it:

  • Provides peace of mind for both adults and children
  • Allows you to focus on parenting your child when they are with you instead of constantly fighting with your ex-spouse
  • Saves you time because you don’t have to go back to court to solve any parenting disputes
  • Provides a consistent schedule that gives your child emotional security and routine

REMEMBER: When implementing a parenting plan, it’s important to stick to the schedule, no matter how difficult. This will give your child a sense of security and keeps conflict to a minimum.

 

Learn More

At Separation Superheroes, we can help you find all the services you need including couples counselling and divorce lawyers to guide you through all aspects of your divorce. 

Whether you require assistance writing a separation agreement or want to know what your mortgage options are after a separation, we can help!

Call today at 1-800-381-1303 or fill in our online contact form.

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Posted by Separation Superhero

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