Thousands of Texas families go through the experience of working through a divorce, often a traumatic time. Divorce is almost always an incredibly stressful period for all parties involved, including children.
But not all children are affected by divorce in the same way, and one of the major factors is the age of the child. Depending on how old your children are, they’re likely to process and react to a divorce differently.
Younger children (ages 3 to 8)
For younger children, one of the most common results of divorce is confusion. Young children may not have a fully developed understanding of the concept of a divorce, or why it’s necessary to split up the family.
Additionally, younger children often have trouble seeing a situation from any perspective but their own, making it difficult to explain how their parents feel and what’s motivating the divorce.
Younger children can experience behavioral problems, acting out with anger of frustration, or withdrawing with sadness or worry.
Older children (ages 8 to 12
When children are a little bit older, a divorce can have a slightly different impact. Frequently, a child in this age range will grapple with the fear that the divorce is their fault, or that they caused it in some way.
While older children often have a better understanding of how the world works, they still may not be equipped to understand the often complicated reasons for a divorce.
Out of the three age ranges, teenagers are the most likely to have a fairly sophisticated understanding of divorce and its reasoning. But they’re also more likely to express their hurt through acts of rebellion.
Teenagers are also prone to “take a side” in the divorce, blaming one parent more than the other.
Teens whose parents divorce tend to act out more in school and social settings, and extra vigilance helps ensure they stay on the right track.
A divorce is a difficult time for children of any age. But they react differently depending on their ages, and it’s essential to understand this so you can give them the support they need.