Children’s reactions to divorce based on developmental stages

On Behalf of | Oct 8, 2019 | Firm News |

All divorces affect everyone in the family. However, a Tennessee divorce does not necessarily cause long-term negative effects for children. After the first year of adjustment, many children have returned to the milestones and development normal for their age group.  

According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, the developmental stage of a child is one of the primary factors that impacts his or her reactions to a divorce. Here are a few of the most common responses for each age group: 

  • InfantsMood changes such as fussiness, irritability or listlessness; eating or sleeping disturbances; higher levels of separation and stranger anxiety than normal 
  • ToddlersIncreased separation anxiety; developmental regression such as loss of language or toileting skills; tantrums; eating and sleep disorders  
  • Preschoolers: Defiance; regression in developmental milestones; eating problems; testing parental limits; nightmares; fear of abandonment 
  • School-aged children: Self-blame; mood changes; behavioral changes; decline in school performance; feelings of abandonment by the noncustodial parent; fantasies of reuniting parents 
  • Adolescents: De-idealizing one or both parents or fantasies of reuniting them; aggressive behavior; withdrawal; poor school performance; substance abuse; inappropriate sexual behavior; suicidal ideation 

Other important factors in the reactions of children include the education, health and financial situations of each parent, how well the parents focus on the children’s feelings and needs and the children’s individual temperaments. Ongoing parental tension, alienation and moving away from a former home may cause lingering distress 

When parents seek counseling, attend parenting classes and provide consistency in the homes, outcomes typically improve for children. This general information is provided for educational purposes and should not be taken as legal advice. 

Costner & Greene Attorneys at Law

315 High Street
Maryville, TN 37804




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