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Children and lashing out during divorce

As you may know, a divorce can have a negative impact on children. It's not always true that they act out, but some children may as a way of exhausting their emotions. If they aren't sure how else to get their point across or don't have the emotional tools to find productive ways to state their grievances, sadness or anger, then children may act out instead.

Emotional challenges are common for some children following a separation or divorce. As a parent, it's your job to make sure you talk to them about the divorce and help guide them through it. If, however, they are not responding well after a few weeks of talks and support, then it may be time to call a family therapist or children's therapist.

What can you do to help your child feel understood?

One of the things parents can do to help calm children who have been acting out is talking to them about their feelings. Don't tell them how to feel. Instead, just acknowledge that they must be struggling right now. Make sure they know that you understand that their emotions are hard to handle right now, and that it's okay if they need to talk.

You should also reassure your child that they are not the reason for your separation. You don't want them to feel as if you and your spouse would still be together if they didn't exist or weren't in your life. Even if having a child was a factor in your divorce in the end, that's not something your child should ever know. Protect your child or children against feelings of guilt by explaining that the divorce is not their fault and shielding them from any parental conflicts you have. Don't use them as messengers and don't put them in the middle.

Finally, sometimes, children just need routine. Adjusting to a new routine can take time, but if you and your spouse get on the same page about what they need, then it will help during the separation and once the divorce is over. Children do better when they know what to expect and are reassured that things will stay the same, especially after a major upheaval in their lives.

These are a few ways you can address problems with your child during a separation or divorce. Don't be scared to ask for help if you feel your child has gotten out of hand. Professional therapists have experience working with children of divorce and can make a difference.

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