Children normally experience an adjustment period after their parents divorce. Sometimes, however, difficulty with this adjustment can benefit from sessions with a professional therapist or counselor.
Review the signs that you may want to seek mental health care to help your child cope with divorce.
Fear and anxiety
Some children develop separation anxiety and irrational fears after their parents divorce. You may notice that your child does not want to be apart from you, displays compulsive behavior, or regresses to act younger. Children may seem less independent than they did before divorce or have trouble transitioning from one parent’s household to the other.
Moodiness and depression
Your child might benefit from talking to a professional if you notice:
- Mood swings
- Feelings of guilt
- Eating problems
- Sleeping problems
- Personality changes
- Prolonged sadness
- Loss of interest in friends and activities
- Constant worries or even panic attacks
Other signs of mental health struggles
Some children act out in anger when their parents divorce. They might struggle with peer relationships or at school. Criticizing friends and family may indicate indicate that a child struggles with self-esteem.
Above all, trust your instincts when it comes to your child. When these symptoms persist for longer than several weeks and interfere with normal function, mental health care can often help children develop healthy strategies to work through these emotions and adjust to “the new normal.”
The American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy recommends seeking a therapist who specializes in working with children through the local family court system, your child’s school, or a public or private mental health provider.