Divorce and Separation can affect children of any age, but will any particular age groups suffer more? We take a whirlwind look at how children might cope with this disruption at various periods of their lives.
While each individual child is different and some may adapt very quickly to changes, each age group is likely to have similar concerns and reactions.
Up to three years
There is no such thing as Babies and toddlers being too young to be affected by their parents Divorce or Separation. In fact evidence shows this to be quite the contrary and that such children when exposed to long term stresses can be affected for life.
Babies and Toddlers may become clingier and be harder to console after one parent leaves the family home. They could also be insecure, even with the parent they are living with, and some may fall behind average development or regress to more babyish behaviour.
Keeping to a routine as far as possible and building a new set rhythm of contact can help a young child cope with the changes. Keeping babies away from any conflict and not excluding them from either parent is important. Generally speaking, this age group is adaptable.
Three to five
At this age, children are discovering more of the world and relying on their parents to provide security as their experiences outside of the home widen. Where their home life is disrupted, they may experience some fear and want any arguments to stop. It can be confusing for a child of this age to try and understand what is happening and why. It can be helpful to keep negative behaviour away from your child as much as possible. Have difficult conversations where they cannot hear and present a civil and united front as much as possible. Again, establishing a new routine quickly can help restore a feeling of security.
Six to twelve
At this age, children have enough reasoning and understanding to become quite involved in the situation. They will remember good times as a family and try to work out why the Divorce or separation is happening and how they can prevent it. They may feel that it is somehow their fault.
This can result in difficult behaviour, either at home or at school. Your child may try and play one parent off against the other, claiming they are allowed more leeway or that they would rather live with their other parent.
Working together as parents is important with this age group. Discuss what is happening as calmly as you can and try and be consistent in your approach. A professional such as a family mediator may be able to help you decide what steps you might need to take to help your child.
Generally, this is considered the trickiest age for a child to navigate divorce, but staying supportive and providing counselling or other assistance if necessary will generally help them deal with the situation, particularly as their maturity and understanding grow with age.
Teens will have a better understanding of why a divorce or separation might be necessary. Where life at home has been difficult, they may even feel that it is the best option.
They will have more going on in their lives than just their home life, so they are less likely to focus solely on the divorce or separation. Talking openly can be helpful, even if they do not fully engage. However it is also important not to drag them into the adult issues and seek support from your teenager who may then feel they need to take sides. Their main worries might be centred around school and friends and whether they will have to move away.
If you would like to speak to one of our expert family lawyer Mediators ring us on 07843265818 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Alternatively you can arrange an appointment to speak with one of our team here
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