When we get married, we never expect that we will one day have to consider the effects of divorce or separation on our children. But the truth is, helping children adjust to divorce is the reality many couples eventually have to face as in today’s society, many marriages end in divorce.
According to the American Psychological Association, 40 to 50 percent of marriages in the United States end in divorce. The divorce rates for second and third marriages is even higher.
In many cases, children adjust quite well to divorce, once life becomes settled and stable again. Adjustment becomes easier, especially if the parents are also adjusting well. However, this is not always the case. It is important to understand the child or children of a divorced couple may need therapeutic help to talk about and process feelings.
I don’t want to talk about it
Because young children often don’t know how to express their feelings in words, they may not talk about their worry, sadness, anger, confusion, or other complex emotions they may be feeling. Children may also be sensing their parent’s distress and will not want to cause more upset by letting them know of their own pain. As a result, many children will not speak to their parents about their feelings. Having your child speak to a therapist can give the child the freedom to explore their thoughts and feelings without worrying about how this may affect the parents.
Therapy can help children adjust to divorce
Children experience all of the same complicated thoughts and emotions as adults. In addition to feeling happy, safe, and secure, they also feel intense negative emotions such as anger, fear, resentment, jealousy, embarrassment, and insecurity. Very young children are unable to articulate these feelings in words. Older children may refuse to discuss feelings. In these cases, children tend to express themselves through their behavior such as acting out, withdrawing from family and friends, or not performing well in school. In cases of extreme emotional stress, physical symptoms can manifest and the child can complain of an upset stomach or headaches. Children under stress can also have appetite changes or sleep disturbances.
Therapy will help the child understand and work through complex emotions in an age-appropriate way. Cognitive Behavior Therapy is very effective for helping children cope with stressful and uncertain situations. The focus of CBT is to help the child recognize and reconstruct negative thinking patterns. Learning to pay attention to their thought process can be enormously effective in helping the child build coping skills. Skills learned in CBT also help to protect the child from developing depression and anxiety. One of the greatest benefits of CBT is that the child will learn skills they will benefit them over the course of their life.
If you are concerned about your child or children, the Center for Therapeutic Services and Psychodiagnosis is located in McHenry, IL, and Lake in the Hills, IL. If you would like to learn more, you are welcome to call and book your appointment or fill out our contact form and click Send.