While most children come through divorce relatively intact and healthy (some studies confirm that in the right situation, the child may even thrive after divorce), other children suffer more and need extra help getting through the emotional trauma they’re experiencing.
If your child starts skipping school during or after your divorce, consider it a severe warning sign of problems to come. Some kids will respond to your orders and demands but many won’t. Talk to the school counselor to find out about resources that might help your child. Open the lines of communication with your child so they know you’re on their side.
Grades can slip during any crisis. If you are noticing more serious issues than a slip, such as actual failing grades, you’ll want to find out how you can get some help for your child sooner rather than later. Your child’s counselor at school might offer some recommendations for your needs.
Using any substance that is illegal is a serious sign that needs to be addressed by a professional. However, sometimes kids will abuse substances that you have no idea about such as food. If your child is using food, drugs, sex, gaming, or anything in an unhealthy way, you may consider helping your child find a counselor.
Acting Out Violently
Emotional bursts aren’t uncommon when a child is experiencing the additional stress associated with divorce. Their whole world has changed, after all. However, being violent to others or themselves is not acceptable and needs to be dealt with as soon as possible with the help of a professional counselor or psychiatrist.
Thoughtless and Impulsive
The problem with impulsive actions is that it can hurt people. If your child is making choices that are dangerous and impulsive, they may need additional support with a therapist. You can also try opening the lines of communication because sometimes their actions are so unconscious that they need help expressing their feelings.
Acting Angry and Defiant
Even before they start doing dangerous things, a sign that your child needs extra help shows up if they are acting angry and defiant. Even if they’re sad and depressed, being that way all the time is something that needs to be dealt with.
Avoiding Family Time
Sometimes the start of disturbing behavior, especially with teenagers, is not showing up for family time. Not sitting at the table with the family during dinner. Not enjoying favorite TV shows. Not going to games. If that starts happening, it’s a strong sign that they’re having issues accepting the change in circumstances.
Other People Notice Something Is Wrong
If anyone – from a neighbor, to a teacher, to another parent, to a friend – suggests that your child is having issues with your divorce, don’t ignore them. Children will sometimes reveal things to others that they don’t to you, because they are protective of you and don’t want to hurt you.
Even if you don’t notice any of these signs that your child needs extra help getting through your divorce, it never hurts to take advantage of resources that can help them before they need it. Your attorney is an excellent resource to help you find counselors and other resources that you can use to help your child. You can also ask your family doctor for help identifying the resources in your area.