Divorce or separation is difficult for everyone involved.  For adults, aside from the emotional aspect, there are practicalities such as money, housing and of course the impact on their children.

For children, their parents separating is a minefield of emotions, which for little ones can be very difficult to process and translate into words.  So how can you spot the impact your separation is having on your children and what steps can you take to ensure that any disruption and upset is minimised?

 Whilst, of course, every child is individual, there are a few signs that are common:

  1. They can go through a period of regression and attention-seeking

 Children can go through a period of regression, where they behave as they have done when they were perhaps younger.  For example, bedwetting or tantrums.  Whilst this can seem alarming, it is quite normal.

Children’s attention-seeking can present itself in different ways.  Aside from regression, you may find your children will try and push boundaries, act out and be more “naughty” than normal.  This is an easy way for a child to get attention from their parents and put the focus back on them.

  1. They may be over-emotional and get angry

 When you separate, your children will feel a lot of uncertainty and worry.  This can manifest itself because they may not know how to explain (or themselves understand) how they feel.  As a result, they may be more emotional, anxious and clingy than normal.  You may also find they get angry; this may be directed at both of you, just one parent, or in general.

  1. Separation anxiety

 You or your ex may find that your children do not want to stay with you, or transversely don’t want to leave you and stay with their other parent.  You may also find that they don’t want to leave you or your ex to go anywhere else.  Again, this is normal, they are going through a big change, they may feel some anger depending on the situation and they may also feel that you are going through a difficult time emotionally and will therefore not want to leave you alone.

  1. They may try to play you off against each other

This is very normal when a couple separate.  Children will try and play mum and dad off against each other.  Whether that is having more relaxed rules or being treated to a new toy.  This in part is down to the child wanting some reassurance and in part this is the child making the best of a bad situation.

What can you do to help?

 Children are bound to act up a bit when their parents separate.  However, there are a few steps that you can take the minimise the impact:

  • Work together, whilst you are no longer a couple, you do have children together and therefore you do need to be able to communicate effectively.
  • Keep boundaries and rules, if possible, mirror them between you and your ex to keep continuity.
  • Ensure that your children know both mum and dad love them and that your separation is no reflection on them.
  • Do not argue in front of your children.
  • Speak only positively about your ex to your children and ensure that you encourage your children to spend time with them.

If your children are really struggling to deal with the separation you could consider arranging for some form of counselling to help them come to terms with it.

If you are worried about the arrangements for your children or if you are struggling to communicate with your ex to work towards the best future for your children, we can help.

To speak to one of our friendly solicitors for a confidential chat give us a call today on 01423 594680.

Laura Mounsey is a family lawyer with experience of working on cases involving properties, trusts, businesses and pensions.  Laura is a dedicated and talented lawyer who has been recognised with a “Safe Pair of Hands” Award.

Everyone’s circumstances are different and this article is provided by way of general information only and must not be relied upon.  If you require legal advice on a family law issue, please feel free to contact us by emailing enquiries@harrogatefamilylaw.co.uk.