Children in Distress – Warning Signs

Many children experience their parent’s conflict with relatively few problems, while other children have a very difficult time. It’s normal for kids to feel a range of emotions.  It is important to remember that for most children… with time, love, and reassurance from both parents, they will recover. But, if your child remains overwhelmed, you should be aware of the warning signs that may indicate that your child needs more orchestrated help.

A Child’s “Normal” Reactions to Family Conflict

images (7)The following reactions can be considered normal for children experiencing family conflict:

Anger. Your child may express their anger, rage, and resentment with you and your spouse for destroying their family.

Anxiety. It’s natural for children to feel anxious under these circumstances. Upset stomachs and crying are normal occurrences.

Mild depression. Sadness about the family’s new situation is normal.  Temporary feelings of hopelessness and helplessness are common.

It may take some time for your children to work through their issues about the separation or divorce, but you should see gradual improvement over a short period of time.

Warning Signs of more serious problems:

If things get worse rather than better following the divorce, it may be a sign that your child is stuck in depression, anxiety or anger and could use some additional support. Watch for these warning signs of divorce-related depression or anxiety:

  • Sleep problems and nightmares
  • Trouble concentrating at school
  • Drug or alcohol use
  • Self-injury, cutting, or eating disorders
  • Frequent angry or violent outbursts
  • Withdrawal from loved ones
  • Refusal to participate in previously enjoyed activities

Discuss these warning signs with your child’s doctor, teachers, therapist and parent coordinator.