You’re Getting Divorced: Does Your Child Need Therapy?

Divorce may be a difficult time not just for parents but to your child, as well. While divorce is unique to every family, its effects on children have a common issue with added concerns. Your child may not show a hard time coping with stress from divorce, but it doesn’t mean that he or she won’t need therapy.

“Divorce is not something that should never be entered into lightly. It means an end to that relationship and the breakup of a family, which can be greatly traumatizing to the children of that marriage.” –Jennifer Baxt, LMFT, LMHC

If your child is showing signs of stress, it does not necessarily mean that he or she needs therapy too. Even though you know your child too well, it can be hard to tell what your kids exactly feels especially that your emotional state is on a roller coaster also. It is not a good idea either to ignore what your child exhibits as this may make the situation worse.

Even a well-managed and handled legal separation is a significant upheaval. For you and the kids, the first step in coping with the new situation is working and facing through the tense emotions that are associated with the losses and the changes. Generally, no matter what behavior your child displays, it is imperative that you convey to your child that you understand how difficult the situation is and that you are concerned for his or her feelings. You must be available anytime if your child needs to talk to you.

You don’t need to push your child if he or she doesn’t express any idea about your divorce. Instead, find unexpected moments and take time to sprinkle him or her with inviting comments. For example: “Are you feeling sad because of the divorce? I’m feeling the same way too.” or “The feeling is like you have been kind of angry at me lately. But it makes sense, with all the changes you have to face all at once.” You have to make your child feel that he or she is not alone in the struggle and that you two are on the same page. “Don’t fall into the trap of sharing divorce details or your angry feelings about your ex with your older kids. Their own anxiety and need for control causes them to be ‘understanding’ of what you’re going through, but you need to be the parent.” A reminder from M. Gary Neuman, LMHC.

When Exactly Can You Tell If Your Child Needs Therapy?

I recommend that you immediately subject your child to a consultation with a professional. If your kid does need a psychological or professional intervention, early therapy is necessary to attain the desired results. However, if your kid doesn’t need professional help, a well trained professional clinician will tell you that assessment – and these professionals will help you and former partner comprehend your child’s behavior and attitude. And offer advice on how to cope and as well as improve your child understand the situation and survive through the tough times. Remember that you as parents have the most significant role to help your child overcome form all of the distress he or she is experiencing.

Clues That Your Child Needs Therapy

Your child may be showing one or some signs on the listed symptoms below. This will help you tell whether he or she needs therapy.

  • Your child’s routine interfere with his or her normal functioning
  • Your child’s behavior interferes with the normal functioning of your family
  • You feel exhausted, angry and even disappointed with your kid a lot of the time
  • People close to you may express their concerns
  • Your child requests to see a professional or a therapist (it may be unusual, but it should be welcomed)
  • Consistent and persistent sad or melancholic mood
  • Increase in health problems
  • Loss of interest to social activity
  • Low academic performance
  • Loss of faith to marriage and family unit
  • Lack of concentration
  • Lowered self-esteem
  • Aggressive behavior

“Divorce is emotional, and for most parents and certainly for their children, it is the most emotion they have ever experienced or confronted all at once.”  Tiffany Lowther, MA, LMHC explains. Divorce can be one of the saddest life moments of your child, but this does not have to be that worse in the developmental turning point of your lives. If you and your ex can still manage to give your child a healthy environment, deviate the child from conflict and support him or her in having a fun and full relationship. The child must overcome the distress divorce has brought upon him or her.

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