Children can react in different ways to their parents’ separation or divorce. This time can be extremely stressful and painful for children. Although it depends on several factors, there are two very important ones, which are the age of the child and the degree of conflict between his parents.
The separation of parents is a shock for children who, in general, experience many feelings for several times, due to their great astonishment and confusion at the time of separation. Thus, children are often worried and uncertain in this situation.
Some children may feel guilty, while others may be very angry with one or both parents and blame them for this situation.
For that, it is important to try to understand the tragedy that these children can go through, and not to neglect their feelings. However, it is always better for the child that the family breaks up rather than evolving in an unhappy home and in permanent tensions.
Children’s behaviors by age
Children do not always express themselves in words when facing a separation, but can communicate through different behaviors.
Some withdraw into themselves, do not talk about the situation or their absent parent. Younger children can become very clingy with the parent who is with them, for fear of losing them as well.
Other children may adopt very childish behavior, expressing themselves in infantile language, or no longer controlling the urge to defecate.
They can have nightmares, rebel, and even become aggressive towards their parents and difficult to calm down. Sometimes professional help is therefore essential.
From birth to 2 years
children are extremely dependent on their parents, both physically and emotionally. Thus, the prolonged separation from his parents causes him intense emotional anguish.
At this age, children worry about the absent parent, with whom they need periods of contact to maintain the relationship.
Conflict between their parents and changes of household can be stressful, often very intense in children of this age. To reassure them you can give them pictures of the other parent, a toy or a special blanket.
Between 2 and a half and 5 years
At this age, children start to become a little more independent, but the separation can be a big shock in their lives, potentially leading to depression. Changes can be observed in sleep, hygiene and language skills.
Children at this age perceive the world through different thought processes, daydreaming about what they don’t understand or master.
In addition, they reproduce things according to what they have observed. However, they are also very sensitive to criticism made of one of their relative, as they perceive it as criticism of themselves.
Between 5 and 8 years old
During this period, children gradually become able to talk about their feelings, as they want more than anything to restore their parents’ relationship and spend most of their time with them.
They may suffer from behavioral problems or difficulty talking about their concerns, which makes it harder to understand their behavior.
Between 8 and 12 years old
At this age, children are fully able to talk about their feelings and enter into a conflict of loyalty with their parents, at the same time as they discover the world far from the family circle, as they begin to participate in d ‘other activites.
Between 12 and 16 years old
Adolescents are becoming more independent and need time and space to cope with separation from their parents.
Indeed, if we press them, they will react with anger and rejection. They also need flexibility in school and social activities.