Marriage is perceived to be a lovely relationship between a man and a woman. That is why single people would want to be married someday. Anyone could get married but staying married is not a simple thing. It takes sacrifices, patience and a lot of hard work. According to Kurt Smith, Psy.D., LMFT, LPCC, AFC, “Once we have made the decision that we have found the person we want to be with and commit to, the work begins.” Some people can even develop depression or anxiety because of the issues that come with it.
There comes the point in your life where you think: enough is enough. With marriage, the same principles apply. For whatever reason triggered your decision for divorce, you’ve probably also asked yourself—‘Will this affect my child? Should we continue to be together for the sake of our children?’ Thoughts such as these may cause feelings of anxiety and worry in you. You want what’s best for your family, even if you sacrifice your feelings along the way.
According to Susan Winter, coaching professional, “relationships are organic. They shift and evolve due to circumstances. You can start off being in-love with someone, then falling into a comfortable pattern of loving them, but not necessarily feel that initial in-love spark anymore.” Deciding on divorce is a huge sacrifice for you and your spouse, but sometimes it’s also the ideal outcome out of any situation. A lot of things have to be dealt with and settled before the separation. From wealth and material belongings to the time you spend with your children should be planned and discussed beforehand. For most divorced couples workout their fair share in parenting before signing the papers because the welfare of their children always come first.
The days that follow a divorce is always rough. The magnitude of the event is just sinking in, your children adjusting to the reality of their parents no longer sharing a single roof. The cold atmosphere, tense situations, and the mood within your house are overall gloomy. It is perfectly normal. Going through a divorce isn’t a simple phenomenon. Everyone in the family is affected and involved. It’s naturally going to take some adjustments. “Divorce creates emotional turmoil for the entire family, but for kids, the situation can be quite scary, confusing, and frustrating,” says Amy Morin, LCSW. But after a month or so, you notice that your children still feel hesitant to talk to you. You realize something has changed. They might be distracted or sad all the time. What should you do?
Signs Your Child May Need A Therapist
Following a divorce, your child may feel lonely, a sense of loss, fearful and anxious, angry, rejected and even insecure. “Unfortunately, many kids will experience divorce as traumatic in part due to the parents’ fighting, blaming each other, while the kids are in the middle,” according to Michelle Farris, LMFT. How can you determine which symptoms are out of the norm and require special attention from a therapist? Here are some signs that tell you if your child needs therapy, or not:
- Your child begins exhibiting extreme behavior.
Sudden emotional outbursts like screaming, yelling and getting mad at you which they’ve never done before is usually a sign that your child may need outside intervention. Depending on your child’s age, this might be his subtle way of dealing with the confusing pool of emotions suddenly locked inside of him after the divorce.
- Your younger child shows regressive behavior.
When under extreme stress or undergoing strong emotional stress, children may regress to their childish behavior. For example, a potty-trained child may begin wetting his bed again, or a child who can feed himself chooses not to and refuses to eat until an adult feeds him. If your younger child starts showing regressive behavior, it might be a sign that he’s more affected by the divorce than he’s allowing himself to explain.
- Your child acts out of line.
When your child starts doing things out of his character, then that’s usually a warning sign that something is wrong mentally and emotionally. When a mostly quiet child suddenly becomes hyperactive and talkative, be wary. Likewise with a chatty kid swiftly growing too shy to speak. Stress manifests in different ways, and children have it especially hard. With no prior experience of how to healthily let out their emotions, these children may adopt unhealthy coping methods and outrageous, risky behavior.
- Your child isolates himself/shows disinterest in his hobbies.
Though feelings of sadness and disorientation after a divorce is commonplace when your child suddenly separates himself and shows disinterest in most, if not all, of his hobbies, then that’s something you should look out for. These are warning signs for depression and anxiety and other mental conditions that require a therapist’s help. When your child starts rejecting the company of other people and the joy of doing his hobbies, then you know something is wrong.
Seeing A Family Counselor
Help your child find a healthy outlet for his emotions, and schedule weekly sessions with a family counselor. Trust your instincts. See if the normal off-put feelings your child has been experiencing for almost a month now consequents a visit to the therapist. Family counselors specialize in working families through the divorce process and find healing in each other. It might be hard to bounce back from the emotional turmoil the process of divorce puts you and your family through. But with the help of a family counselor guiding you through, you’ll get there eventually.
Additionally, don’t wait for warning signs to show up before you take your family to weekly family counseling sessions. Therapy sessions don’t just strictly work with mental illnesses. But, attending weekly counseling sessions can also help you understand what you’re going through emotionally, mentally and psychologically. Through this, you can prevent the unresolved conflict from developing into the trauma.
According to statistics, approximately 5 to 10% of children around the world experience anxiety disorders. Unfortunately, not a lot of parents get to spot anxiety in their children. It could lead to the development of severe anxiety levels and even other mental health illnesses which children could carry until they grow up. So as early as possible, it would be best for parents to already recognize the anxiety in their children to facilitate proper intervention methods.
Here are five ways that parents can spot anxiety in your child:
- Identify The Physical Signs
The tricky part about anxiety is that its physical symptoms could also mean other things. When anxious, a child may show agitation, restlessness, and difficulty sleeping. This could also include fidgeting, shaking, tensed muscles, and hyperactivity. “Never dismiss or play down your child’s anxiety. When they complain of a stomachache or headache in the morning before school, they’re not faking. The pain they feel is real, and may require clinical treatment.” This is the hopeful message of Perri Klass, M.D., and Eileen Costello, M.D.,
The trap is that sometimes, parents would assume that it is just a child’s typical response to a frightening situation, like a movie. While this could be true in several cases, parents should take note of these physical signs. If it persists, together with other symptoms, they should start seeking professional help.
- Observe Changes In Behavior
Changes in a child’s behavior may present emotional signs of anxiety. For instance, a child who used to be always smiling may start often crying, being constantly grumpy without an apparent reason, or become afraid to make small mistakes. These signs do not need to happen suddenly, though. Sometimes, it manifests in gradual, day-by-day changes.
The important thing here is for parents to not quickly dismiss the tantrums and fears of their young ones as plain childish tricks. Parents need to understand that there could be a deeper meaning to all of the changes in their child’s behavior and that anxiety may be causing them.
- Learn What Happens In School
Even if anxiety becomes apparent in the physical and emotional tendencies of your child, do make an effort to learn what happens to them at school. Parents should ask their children about school every single day. Simple questions like “How did you do at school today?” or “What did you learn from the teacher?” could reveal signs of anxiety. To a certain extent, parents could also do a surprise visit for their children at school or observe them from a distance. It could reveal more accurate answers.
Also, parents should also coordinate frequently and adequately with teachers and school administrators to get a broader perspective on how their child does at school. If they observe similar changes in behavior and physical tendencies on the child, it could validate what parents already identified as anxiety.
- Check Their Interaction With Friends
While some children love the idea of doing things by themselves, social withdrawal is a symptom of anxiety. If your child used to love the company of others but suddenly shows aversion towards friends without any specific reason, it could be a sign of anxiety. Children experiencing anxiety disorders tend to avoid social situations, refuse to speak with friends, and exclude themselves from participating in activities that require interpersonal interactions.
In this social media age, it would also be good to check on your children’s social media accounts. See how they portray themselves to their friends and what kinds of things they share on the internet. It could reveal more signs of anxiety disorders as children find their outlet through their social media posts. “Never dismiss or play down your child’s anxiety. When they complain of a stomachache or headache in the morning before school, they’re not faking. The pain they feel is real, and may require clinical treatment.” This is the hopeful message of Perri Klass, M.D., and Eileen Costello, M.D.,
- Look Beyond Other Mental Health Issues
Another tricky part about anxiety in children is that the signs could confuse parents. They may think it is another mental health disorder. It leads to mistakes to seek treatments for mental health disorders instead of anxiety.
For instance, children may have tendencies to be obsessive-compulsive as a coping mechanism for their anxiety. For some, the restlessness caused by anxiety is similar to attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Still, the fears generated by anxious thoughts can be boxed as just a phobia. It does not address the anxiety from within.
This makes it essential for parents to widen their knowledge about mental health to address it adequately when their children start experiencing the symptoms.
Anxiety levels do vary. Anxiety can manifest itself in a multitude of ways across different children. Even symptoms do have commonalities that parents should be able to spot early on. As parents, they should try their best to keep an open mind and understand their children’s thoughts and situations. Aside from professional help, parental guidance is always a good solution to mental health disorders among children.
“Taking time to cool off will also help you avoid the last and most counterproductive element of ignore-nag-yell-punish,” says John Taylor, PH.D.
Neglect is experienced by some children, and it can happen in many ways. It can be in an offensive manner and not recognizable as neglect. This is one of the most common forms of child abuse along with physical, sexual and emotional abuse. However, parents and other members of the family are not aware of it. “Although child neglect embodies many variations, all pertain to caretakers’ failing to provide a child with age-appropriate care. In short, the child is deprived of the basic necessities that would enable them to thrive,” says Leon F Seltzer Ph.D.
Divorce Counseling Can Save You Money
Divorce is physically, mentally and FINANCIALLY demanding. “Divorce is one of the most stressful events anyone can ever experience.,” says Michelle Farris is a marriage and family therapist. You may think that cutting divorce counseling may save you a lot of money, but actually, it’s not. You may be wasting your time and money ranting over the phone with your lawyer about how you feel. A lawyer has limited knowledge and training in counseling. Whatever you may tell your lawyer will just be disregarded unless it is legally significant. While venting out to your lawyer may help you feel better, venting to a divorce counselor may be of greater sense.
It’s a wonderful feeling when we finally meet that special someone in our lives and decide to commit to them for eternity. It makes us feel safe and confident to fall in love. However, it comes with quite a shock when that feeling eventually fades away. “Once we have made the decision that we have found the person we want to be with and commit to, the work begins. A big part of that work is making many other choices,” according to Kurt Smith, Psy.D., LMFT, LPCC, AFC. When there’s a realization that we no longer want to be in a relationship, and the idea of being with our spouses for a lifetime freaks us out, there’s got to be a serious problem.
Individual therapy is a method used to identify certain issues amongst ourselves that could be causing a mental health problem or could be hindering success. It is conducted by a licensed therapist or psychologist and would usually be around eight sessions or more depending on your progress.
The family is the basic and essential unit of society. All of us belong to one. It could be a small or big group of individuals connected to function as one. A family is bonded by blood or affection and comes with respect then creates something that disturbs the harmony within the family, and a domino effect happens. “Family values are key factors in shaping ideas around success,” according to Edie Weinstein, MSW, LSW.
It is imperative that a couple goes through counseling before deciding to get a divorce. The couple needs to see the bigger picture of the situation and assess for themselves if getting separated is the best option. A counselor will try to help them sort out what’s causing the marriage to fail and will help them realize if it’s repairable or not. “Detaching from an ex-partner may be especially difficult for people who are anxiously attached in the first place,” says Gwendolyn Seidman Ph.D.