Divorce is difficult, especially for children. Divorcing parents have a lot to worry about, including how their child is coping with the divorce. Are they adjusting well, or are they misbehaving at school? Some out-of-character behavior is expected, but how do you know when your child needs therapy during divorce?
1. Long term behavioral changes
Your child will experience some behavioral changes during the divorce process. Periods of sadness, anger, or acting out are normal. However, prolonged bouts of these of behavioral changes are alarming and need to be addressed. Ignoring them can lead to long term issues, and your child’s academics, social skills, and emotional well-being will be at risk.
2. Problems eating or sleeping
Your child may be having difficulties coping with divorce if they are showing signs of insomnia or a lack of appetite. Both can result in physical and mental side effects, such as extreme weight loss and irritability. If your primary care doctor has ruled out any medical reasons for this behavior, you should consider sending your child to therapy during divorce.
3. Newfound separation anxiety
Separation anxiety is a key indicator that your child is having a hard time adjusting to the divorce. Signs of separation anxiety usually manifests during visitation pick-up and drop-off. It can also occur when you leave for work, or when your child goes to school. While experiencing separation anxiety, your child can throw tantrums, act irrationally, or become overly clingy.
Separation anxiety during a divorce is an indicator of deep seeded fears of abandonment, guilt, and other insecurities. A licensed therapist is the best person to help address these issues.
4. Decline in school performance
Slipping grades, disruptive classroom behavior, and skipping school are signs that your child is having trouble handling the divorce. Academic and social skills are developed in school, and performing poorly can set your child up for years of insecurity and self-doubt. In some cases, your child may be subjected to bullying from fellow classmates.
To help combat this, speak with your child’s principal, teachers, and the school guidance counselor. Let them know you’re going through a divorce (you don’t have to give details). Educators are trained to spot uncharacteristic behavior, and can let you know if something is amiss with your child.
The Benefits of Child Therapy during Divorce
Therapy provides a safe, candid, and confidential environment for your child to express themselves. Having this safe space is crucial to making sure they cope well with the divorce. You love your child and want the best for them, and during divorce, therapy may be in their best interest.
Not all children respond to therapy in the same way, so you need to figure out what will work best for your child. Individual therapy is great for one-on-one conversation, whereas group therapy can help provide a sense of community. Younger children tend to react well to informal situations, where they will feel more comfortable opening up to their therapist.
The family law firm of Brian D. Perskin & Associates P.C. specializes in complex divorce and child custody matters in New York City. For more information, or to schedule your free consultation, call 718-875-7584 today!