Are you spreading your divorce stress to your kids?

Our kids see, hear and feel more than most of us realize. When we’re feeling sad, anxious or stressed-out, they notice. Many take those feelings on whether they — or we — realize it or not. Studies have shown that children with parents who are experiencing stress can end up with behavioral issues.

Even divorcing parents who do their best to shield their children from the stress they’re feeling can’t help but spread it to their kids, particularly if they’re the parent with primary custody. It can be like a cold or flu bug that makes its way through the house — only not so easy to get rid of.

Being aware of this phenomenon is a big part of preventing or at least minimizing it. One way to do that is to reduce your own stress level. This may mean taking time to go out and have fun with your friends or simply doing things that you enjoy.

Often, venting your feelings to someone (outside the home and your kids’ earshot) is helpful. This could be a friend, family member or therapist. When your own stress level is reduced, you should see a change in your kids.

Kids deal with stress differently, depending on their age and personality. Some disappear into their rooms for long periods. Others act out or start doing poorly in school. Some have problems sleeping or develop physical ailments like stomachaches or headaches. Since you know your kids better than anyone, you will likely realize when they aren’t themselves.

It’s essential to let kids express their feelings about their parents’ break-up. Let them know that you’re available to talk whenever they need to.

If your kids continue to have problems dealing with the divorce and it’s causing issues in their lives, it may be helpful for them to talk to a therapist. Your Arizona family law attorney can likely recommend someone in your area who has experience helping children of divorce understand deal with their feelings.

Source: Our Family Wizard, “Are Your Kids Being Affected By Your Stress?,” accessed Dec. 15, 2017

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