When you and your spouse decided to divorce, you put together a quick custody plan to hold you over temporarily until you could come up with something more stable. Your separation happened so quickly that your spouse moved out within days. Your child, at the time, was upset but seemed to understand that they could visit at any time.
Since you and your spouse are on good terms despite being separated, you may think that your child won’t have trouble adapting to the new arrangements, however, that’s not always the case. Sometimes, even the smallest changes can cause major signs of upset and distress in children.
What are some signs that your child isn’t adjusting to divorce?
There are several signs that your child may not be adjusting to your divorce. Here are three to look for.
- They become clingier than usual
Whether they’re with you or the other parent, heightened attention-seeking and clinginess could be a sign that they’re feeling uncertain or abandoned. If you notice this in your child, sit down with them and talk to them about how loved they are and that, although there have been changes, both you and the other parent will continue to provide and be there for them.
- Your child suddenly has nightmares
If your child seems fine throughout the day but has started waking up in the middle of the night, they could be having upsetting nightmares as a result of their inner distress. It’s valuable to have conversations with them about what they’re feeling. If they’re too young to express themselves well, try having them draw it out. For very young children, making sure to stick to a routine may help eliminate nightmares once they start to understand where they will be and when they’ll see their parents.
- Your child has big personality changes in a short time
Whether they’re suddenly stoic or they’re crying more than usual, this change in personality is likely an expression of frustration, grief or uncertainty. Both you and your spouse should discuss those behavior changes with your child in an age-appropriate manner and help them feel reassured that the divorce changes your family, but it doesn’t mean they aren’t loved.
It can take time for children to adjust to divorces. In the meantime, keep a steady routine and remember to create a custody plan that is in your child’s best interests.