When you and your spouse choose to divorce, the effects tend to ripple outward to the rest of the family, particularly your kids. While divorce is difficult for children, Healthline notes that elementary school-aged children typically have the most trouble because of their ability to process the reality of the situation but not the emotions connected to it.
While kids this age may react differently depending on their environment and living situation, learning to recognize certain behaviors can help you guide your child through this difficult time.
1. New or unusual mood patterns
When divorce changes from possibility to reality, your child may begin to experience mood swings. In the case of an older child at the start of puberty, these mood changes may become more intense. They might include depression, anger and periods of self-isolation. While the events that divorce causes can consume much of your time, remaining aware of your child’s moods can help you intervene as soon as possible.
2. Appetite changes
Your elementary school-aged child may experience appetite changes during your divorce as they attempt to deal with the emotions connected with the split. They may reject foods they enjoyed in the past and crave sugary treats, especially those connected with their past when the family unit was still whole. You can prevent hyperactivity connected to increased sugar intake by offering healthy snacks and keeping mealtimes as predictable as possible.
3. New fixations on media
As your child tries to process what divorce means for the family, he or she may fixate on certain TV programs, cartoon characters or celebrities as a means of self-soothing. These fixations usually burn themselves out as your child feels more secure about the future.
Both you and your ex-spouse can reduce the fallout of divorce by remaining a united parenting front and maintaining routines as much as possible.