While it is normal for parents to feel emotionally drained and lonely after a divorce, the situation might be harder for kids. Apart from feeling sad and low about the separation, children are at greater risk of developing clinical depression.
The symptoms of depression vary from one child to the other. Unfortunately, these symptoms are usually overlooked as typical blues and psychological changes. Below are some warning signs of depression you should look out for in your children:
- Social withdrawal
- Difficulty concentrating
- Changes in academic performance
- Vocal outbursts or crying(emotional sensitivity)
- Feeling fatigued
- Feeling guilty and unworthy
If your child exhibits most of these symptoms, it’s always best to seek professional medical help. However, there are things you can do that may help. These include:
1. Encourage them to express their feelings
Encourage your child to acknowledge and be honest about what they feel. And since conversations about the divorce could be ongoing, let them know they have nothing to do with what is happening. Let them know it is okay to feel sad, anxious, angry and bitter, and the feelings will eventually fade.
2. Assist them with social support
Social withdrawal is normal for children who are undergoing a familial transition. That said, make sure your kid has enough support system. However, while socializing is vital in minimizing depression symptoms, limit social screen time. Social media or text communication should not substitute face-to-face interaction with family and friends.
3. Communicate as much as possible
Your kids need to know what is happening and why it is happening. So be honest about the divorce, but simplify the story. Plan in advance and be careful of what you say. If you have many kids, get them together so you can discuss upcoming changes all at once.
It is normal for kids to feel sad, angry and anxious because of a divorce. However, children whose parents have divorced can do better if their parents remain emotionally strong and supportive. Unfortunately, this may be impossible in a high-conflict divorce. Therefore, consider a collaborative divorce process that can help stabilize emotions and reduce conflicts.