One in 8 children aged 5-19 years has at least one mental health disorder, according to a recent government study, with emotional disorders being the most common.
With such stark statistics, it’s no wonder that so many parents going through divorce are worried about the effect it will have on their children. A report by the Children’s Society revealed that family relationships are the biggest factor in a child’s wellbeing.
A child caught up in a divorce is vulnerable to feeling unloved, neglected and overwhelmed, as described in this account by a friend of a young girl who experienced the divorce of her parents:
So, how could divorce affect your child?
Unequipped with the skills to process the emotions brought out by divorce, a child can become increasingly distressed, which can affect both their mental and physical wellbeing.
Often they have to move to a new area and potentially attend a new school. Without the support of their old school friends day-to-day, even school can become a source of stress.
Change can be challenging at the best of times but when everything around your child seems to be changing, it can be traumatic. Seeing their parents upset or arguing and sensing the tension, children often try to shield their parents from their own emotional turmoil.
This can go on for months or even years before both parents settle into their new, separate lives and establish new routines for their child.
Research has shown that over a period of just 6 months, exposure to anything that undermines a child’s sense of security, such as divorce, can alter the pathways in their brain. The result: they become more sensitive to any events they perceive as risky.
These effects don’t end when the divorce is finalised. Researchers have shown that such changes to the brain in childhood make depression and anxiety more likely in later years, as well as having a negative impact on the ability to form enduring attachments with others.
However, if you’re going through divorce, this does not have to be a foregone conclusion for your child. You can prepare them for what’s ahead. With the right interventions, you can give them the skills they need to prevent lasting changes in the way they perceive and react to negative events or challenging relationships.
What can you do to help your child?
At Painless Divorce, we provide a holistic service to help both adults and children through divorce. We not only provide legal counsel but address the emotional fallout of divorce.
If you want to help your child feel more secure, less anxious and more positive about their future, then it’s well worth trying our Young People’s and Children’s Workshops. These tailor-made workshops provide your child with vital techniques to build their emotional resilience as your family goes through divorce. Find out more here.
Once your child is booked onto our courses, you have the option to attend our parent’s seminar so you can continue to support their learning after they’ve attended their workshop