We all know that some children are better behaved than others. There are factors that influence a child’s behavior in a negative way, and divorce is one of them. When parents are getting a divorce, they both need to ensure that their children’s needs are constantly met, so they don’t have anything to rebel against. They need to feel accepted, they need to be assured of safety and freed from guilt and blame. They need a stable parent who can act like he is in charge.
Effect of divorce on children based on age and gender
Even so, divorce has different effects on different children of different ages. For example, children age 5 or less experience guilt and blame themselves for the divorce. For children at this age, it is very important to constantly remind them that it was not their fault. This was a grown-up decision that had nothing to do with them.
Children aged between 5 and 8 experience mainly sadness. The best thing to do as a parent is to keep the daily routines in place and make a few changes as possible to their lifestyle.
If your child is aged between 9 and 12 years, they will most likely experience feelings of intense anger. With children of this age, their behavior might be noticeable at school. You might even start getting phone calls home from classroom teachers. The best thing to do with the children at this stage is to be kind and patient, but try not to overcompensate or overindulge. They still need to be properly disciplined and reminded of what is and what is not acceptable.
Research shows that the most traumatic reaction is experienced by adolescence. This age group tends to manifest the pain through sexual promiscuity, substance abuse aggression, and truancy. In this case it’s a good idea to keep your teenager close so you can keep an eye on them. Consider having meaningful conversations to educate them about sex and relationships. Your children also need to be reminded what it is and is not acceptable at home if they start acting out. You can find more information about how to talk to teenage boys in my book, Parenting Teenage Boys: How to discipline like an authoritative parent
Another important aspect revealed by research is the fact that boys suppress their feelings, which increases isolation. At this stage, adolescents could become aggressive and impulsive even before the divorce is finished. If that’s the case you should encourage your teenager to spend as much time as possible with his friends and possibly start seeing a child psychologist. Most schools have one on site and it’s free. You can find more information about how to talk to teenage boys in my book, Parenting Teenage Boys: How to discipline like an authoritative parent
Girls exhibit strongest effects of divorce during the teenage period, most often manifested in early sexual activity. Make sure you talk to your daughter about different types of contraceptives and about when it is the right time to start their sexual life. You can find more information about how to communicate with your teenage girl, in my book, Parenting Teenage Girls: How to use inductive reasoning.
Now you have become aware of the effect of divorce on different age groups. It is important to keep an eye on your child once you tell them about the divorce. It is much easier to prevent than to fix a mistake.