Separation - Dealing With Children's Reactions

Separation and divorce affects the whole family, including children and teenagers. They can uncertain as to what the future of living with one parent at the time will mean to their lives. They don't know any different as having both parents present and with the uncertainty of the future might act out more than usual. The following article will look at some possible reactions of children and teenagers and how you can support them through this period.

The age of the child

The reactions vary depending on the child's age. Very young children, below the age of three, will most likely not understand the situation to its full extent. They will go along with what is happening but will be strongly affected by disharmony or verbal aggression being displayed when they are around.

Self-blame and guilt

Children between three and five can grasp what a separation means. They are often fearful of not having the other parent around and will ask continuous questions like: 'Where is daddy?' or 'Why is mummy no longer living with us?' These children, as well as older ones, often unconsciously feel guilty and put the blame onto themselves for their parent's disagreements, arguing or separation.

Acting out to draw attention

It is common knowledge that children act out to get attention. Children older than six and younger than twelve can react very strongly as they are trying to figure out what this means to them. They can become moody or aggressive towards siblings or be overly fearful and clingy themselves. Sometimes even before the parents have spoken to the children, they will ask them questions about the topic of separation, unconsciously letting their parents know that they are ready to know something is going on.

Effect on school and social surrounding

Older children and teenagers can display unusual behaviour or start experiencing academic difficulties at school. The shock of their parents changed relationship status will affect their ability to concentrate, their belief in what relationship means and for some totally dispel the myth of what they thought their parents symbolized on various levels.

Taking sides

Depending on the way the separation is communicated to the children, they might take sides. It is of utmost importance that parents maintain a common front and explain that 'we have come to this decision together'. It is tempting to blame to other person when you are feeling hurt. Asking your child to choose between your partner and yourself is not doing any favors to your growing children.

Remember: Make sure that you adapt the suggestions above to your child's temperament and nature. Always keep your child's best interest as your highest priority and trust your own heart in choosing the right way.

Want to know more? Have a look at my blog.

Nathalie Himmelrich is the founder of 'Reach for the Sky Therapy' on Sydney's Northern Beaches and specialises in 'relationship related issues'. She is working with individuals and couples using techniques ranging from Counselling, Neuro Linguistic Programming to Journey Therapy. She supports clients in their personal growth in a supportive and professional environment.

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