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What are typical reactions children have to divorce?

As an Ohio parent, you likely have come to realize that your children's personalities are unique. You may have one child who tends to be quite outgoing and comfortable in his or her own skin and another who is quite shy or introverted. Different personality traits mean that your children may not react to similar circumstances in exactly the same way.

If you are preparing to tell your kids that you are getting divorced, you should expect to see a wide range of reactions. In fact, a single child may go through various types of emotion and behavior within the same week or even the same day. The more you know about children's emotional health as it relates to divorce, the better. It's also a good idea to have a strong support system in place ahead of time.

Common behaviors in kids during divorce

A main goal of most good parents in Ohio and beyond, especially during divorce, is to provide as much stability, continuity and structure in their children's lives as possible, as kids typically fare best in such environments. The following list shows behaviors your kids might exhibit after learning about your divorce; each behavior may prompt a different response on your part:

  • Anger: If your child gets mad and starts yelling or having an all-out temper tantrum, don't be surprised. This is a common reaction in children when parents get divorced.
  • Crying: You may have cried yourself before telling your kids about your impending divorce, so it's not surprising that young children might have a similar reaction.
  • Regression: If your pre-teen suddenly starts sleeping with a stuffed animal again or an older child starts wetting the bed, it may be a sign of distress, warranting added support. With love and support, signs of regression may subside over time.
  • Sibling rivalry: If your kids start to fight more than usual, they may be taking their emotions regarding your divorce out on each other.

Never assume that your children understand that they did not cause your divorce. It is a good idea to verbally remind them that they are not to blame. At the same time, it is not necessarily healthy to try to sugar-coat the entire situation; kids need to learn to deal with the realities of life.

In fact, if they know you are having legal problems, for instance, but watch you reach out for support in a calm, mature manner, they are more likely to employ helpful coping skills as well.

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Kroener Hale Law Firm
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Batavia, OH 45103

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