Understanding divorce and its effects can be of confusion to many adults let alone children. In the case of divorce the casualties, unfortunately, are always children; children who do not understand why it happens or if it is necessary to happen. Children’s ability to understand this unpleasant phenomenon depends on their age and what they have been told. That is mainly why we should know what to tell them in order not to make more difficult as it is. In what follows we are going to see how children understand divorce related to their age.
Birth To 18 Months
Babies of this age do not understand the details or the causes of divorce as they cannot understand divorce itself. But they can feel tension and conflicts if there is any in the relationship of their parents. This impacts negatively the children on many levels. For instance, they become irritable and clingy; as a result, they do not feel comfortable around new people. Thus, this psychological trauma never allows smooth and normal growth for them. To minimize the damage, it is preferred to do not argue in front of the baby, and to keep their daily routine, especially the time of sleeping and meals. Give your baby her\his favorite toy and security items. Spend as much time as possible with her\him. It is this way that you are compromising equilibrium.
3 To 6 Years.
Preschoolers and toddlers do not understand divorce in a clear way. But no matter what, they do not want their parents to separate. It feels for them that they are torn apart. They have to be missing one of the most two who make them feel safe and secure and they do not get to choose. It is in this age that children feel that they are responsible for their parents’ separation. They go through dark feelings and gloomy thoughts and as a result, they have those nightmares all night long. To ease the transition, parents must open a discussion with their children about the matter and try to deliver the message implicitly as if it is not something negative. Moreover, they need to feel that their safety is not going to be shaken by guaranteeing them that they will see the noncustodial parent.
6 To 11 Years Old:
Children from 6 to 8 years old still do not understand the concept of divorce, and they feel as if their parents are divorcing them. They feel that they are about to be abandoned. It is the heroic age in which kids try to save their parent’s marriage and by failing, you can imagine the shock. This surely affects their personality as it is under the process of being shaped. From another perspective, they feel they are losing the noncustodial parent, and they keep fantasizing that their parents will get back together someday.
Children from 8 to 11 create an antagonistic relationship between a protagonist and a villain of their parents. They align with the good one from their point of view and blame it all on the other. They accuse their parents of being selfish and choosing their pride over the unity of the family. Usually, children suffer instability and aggressive behavior such as fighting at school, depression or even alienation.
To make them cope with the new reality, both parents must have enough time with the kids. And what matters the most is that the mother and the father must show respect to each other despite what brought them to this situation and whose fault is that. Moreover, they should put in the mind of their kids the notion that they will never abandon them for any reason. And that they should not blame one another because this will only make the kid confused and try to label the “bad guy” on one of the parents. Finally, take your kids to a psychiatrist in case of any sharp behavior like excessive violence.
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