Anxiety disorders have reached epidemic proportions among today’s youth; the National Institute of Mental Health reports that anxiety impacts 25.1 percent of those between the ages of 13 and 18. Research suggests that divorce can complicate existing behavioral disorders as well as spark symptoms in previously unaffected children. With your help, however, your children can cope effectively with divorce-related emotional challenges and can come away equipped to handle difficult situations in adulthood.
Diverse, Unpredictable Feelings
Certain behaviors—once deemed unimaginable in your child—may appear when you least expect. No two children exhibit the exact same symptoms. Some cling to their parents, losing all semblance of independence. Others surprisingly rebel. Grades may fall rapidly, or children may demand perfection from themselves. The emotional journey rarely follows a linear progression, either. Your child may struggle for months with inappropriate fear related to being abandoned, for instance, followed by a rapid return to normal. Likewise, feelings can shift at unpredictable times—sometimes suggesting progress that isn’t really there, sometimes hinting at a relapse toward unwanted behaviors that’s only very temporary.
Much of the anxiety of divorce stems from changing schedules and living situations. Minimize chaos by adopting a strict routine—ideally followed by both parents. From bedtime to meals, a clear schedule will ensure that overwhelmed children know what to expect in a typical day. Routine is particularly important for young children and for those on the autism spectrum. You may spend significant time away from home as you complete your divorce; make sure that nannies, babysitters, or other caretakers abide by your home’s rules.
Some children bottle up their anxiety for fear of disappointing their parents. Let your kids know that you’ll listen to their concerns, free of judgment. As they begin to share their worries, resist the urge to take charge or offer endless advice. Most children just want to be heard; and by genuinely listening, you’ll deliver much-needed relief.
Seek Professional Help
Every child experiences feelings of stress or anxiousness from time to time. Your job as parent is to recognize when those feelings surpass typical stressors and require treatment from a medical professional. Upon diagnosis, your child’s physician or psychologist may recommend counseling, medication, or a combination of the two.
Divorce will inevitably cause stress, but your efforts can ensure a smooth transition. Whether you or your child is currently dealing with divorce-related anxiety, legal counsel can help. Seek a more peaceful transition with assistance from Virginia divorce lawyers at DiPietro Law Group.