Divorce: Our Guide to Children’s Mental Health

06 February 2019
Image children mental health blog

Did you know that 1 in 8 people in the UK under the age of 19 have a mental health disorder?

There are many different pressures and life events that can contribute to the deterioration of your child’s mental health, including divorce. If your marriage breaks down and you and your partner’s relationship becomes hostile, they may be left feeling isolated and depressed.

There are some signs you can look out for that suggest your child’s mental health may be suffering.

The early signs 

How do you know if your child is struggling to cope with your divorce? 

With younger children, they may return to old habits that they have previously outgrown. This can include tantrums, wetting the be or severe distress when they’re separated from you. 

For older children, emotions are often released through anger and anxiety, or they may isolate themselves. All of these are signs of mental stress.

How you can help

Children’s mental health is a delicate subject but there are ways you can help.

Give them love and support
Many children carry the burden of their parents’ separation and believe they’re to blame. By constantly reminding your child that they are loved by both parents will provide reassurance that it's not their fault. 

Communicate with them
Try sitting your child down and clearly telling them what changes will occur as a result of your divorce. This will help them to understand the transition. It also provides them with time to mentally prepare.

Implement routine and structure
Reduce the feeling of uncertainty by clearly outlining routines and structures so children know what to expect. If you and your partner are living separately, make sure there are similar rules and routines at both homes to make the new situation less stressful.

Work with your partner
Marriages may fail but parenting is a life-long commitment for you and your partner. Understanding that you both have a mutual love for your children can help you to overlook the reasons your relationship broke down. Despite how you feel about each other, never use children to get at one another. Keep a line of communication so you’re both aware of how your child is coping with the separation.

Moving forward

We understand every relationship is different and what works for one family may differ to others. By ensuring your child is your priority throughout the process, you’ll help to prevent them feeling distressed and angry.

If you’re concerned about your child or have a question about children’s mental health, you can call the Young Minds parent’s helpline on 0808 802 5544.

If you are going through a divorce and need guidance or someone to manage the process, please email us at info@johnfowlers.co.uk or call 01206 576 151 for our Colchester branch.