Effects Of Separation On Children – Childhood is an impressionable time, and children are often very vulnerable to the changes that occur around them—whether positive or negative—and one of the biggest changes that can affect a child is the separation of their parents. A divorce or separation is a tumultuous time for anyone involved, but the changes in roles, routines, and emotions can heavily affect the children involved. And, while separations are often unavoidable, knowing how they may affect the children can help parents to provide support, reassurance, and assistance as the child needs it.
Common effects of separation for children
The separation of parents requires an immense amount of adjustment on many levels for a child and helping them to handle these adjustments in a healthy manner can play a major role in ensuring positive outcomes in the long run. Even healthy, necessary separations can be traumatic to young children, who do not always have the natural resiliency factors necessary to adjust to such enormous changes in their lives. Although no child will react the same way to a divorce or separation, as a result of their inability to understand or express their feelings, many children may experience some or all of the following:
- Behavioural issues such as acting out or withdrawing from activities
- Isolation from friends and family due to a sense of insecurity
- Development of mental health conditions such as depression or anxiety
- Developmental regressions in younger children, such as a return to bed wetting or thumb sucking
- Academic regressions in older children
- The development of eating disorders or substance abuse in young adulthood
- Feelings of guilt, resentment, or blame that linger after the separation is finalised
While these changes may seem scary or alarming to a parent, they are often the normal effects of a child seeking to adjust to the immense changes in their lives without all of the world experience and resiliency of adults. It is important to remember that it is the child reacting to the situation in the only way that they know how, and to approach behaviour or other changes with compassion and understanding. Providing a strong support system for your child can be one of the best ways to help them find more stable emotional footing during this time. Additionally, it can be immensely helpful for children to see a counsellor throughout the process, to better help them cope with the changes that are taking place in their life.
How can counselling help?
Counselling may be an important element in helping a child adjust to the separation of their parents in a healthy manner. Many children are too young to be able to process the complicated emotions that can arise during this time, and a counsellor can assist them in this process at an age-appropriate level. They can help them express feelings that may be too big for such young children to otherwise understand and verbalise, and can help them to develop an understanding of the overall process, goals, and future of the separation. In situations where the separation occurs as a result of abuse or mistreatment, there may be additional levels of trauma that the child must face to move forward.
If you are going through a divorce or separation—even an amicable one—it can be incredibly beneficial for your children to start seeing a counsellor as early in the process as possible to help them better adjust to the massive changes that are taking place in their lives. The counsellors at Horizon Plymouth understand the unique issues that children in these situations face and would love to work with your family. Contact Horizon Plymouth to schedule your initial consultation today!