Children deal with separation differently to adults, and they also need different support as they deal with their emotions and life changes.
Children may be dealing with a lot of significant changes when their parents separate, including changes to their:
Time with their other parent
Children are often not able to express their fears and worries in words as well as adults can, or they may try to hide their feelings if they are worried about a parent. This is why it is so important to remember to take time to think about how your child is going.
For children, often their behaviour can be a clue to what their inner thoughts and feelings are.
For example, a young child who is feeling left out and angry may express themselves by getting angry with a sibling or another child at school. Understanding the feeling behind their behaviour can help with finding the best way to support them. Teenagers may act out by running away or becoming withdrawn. They may take on risky and dangerous behaviour. It’s important to see these behaviours as a sign of distress.
It is important to remember too that children are constantly watching the world around them, and take in a lot.
The ability to try to see the world from a child’s perspective is important for parents who are separating. Trying to understand a child’s needs—their social, emotional, basic care and developmental needs is also very important. Try to remember you and your ex-partners shared dreams for your children and hold these in mind as you negotiate tough times.