Divorce’s Impact on Preschool, School-Age, and Adolescent Children Abstract This writing reviews current literature examining the impact of divorce on children in the context of family. The review encompasses ways divorce can be prevented and how un-prevented divorce can affect children of the specified ages. The ages of the children are outlined as preschool, school aged and adolescence. The impact on each group is different and considered. Ways to minimize the number of divorces is examined by outlining preventions on a state level.
Recommendations for state established programs are made that would occur prior to marriage to prevent later iscommunications. In the face of unstoppable divorce it is important to understand how children can be helped to cope more effectively with divorce in context of future development. Divorce’s impact on preschool, school-age, and adolescent children As divorce continues to be an option for marriage resolution it is important to take a look at how divorce affects young children. Numerous studies have been done to prove the negative effects of divorce on children.
This writing will examine those effects upon children of preschool, school, and adolescent aged children. It is mportant to understand the effects on children in terms of later development. Divorce affects both the custodial and non-custodial parent and their relationship with the child (ren). It effects how parents discipline their children and bond with their children. The negative effects of divorce could be avoided if divorce could be minimized. Minimizing divorce could prevent the negative long term effects of divorce on children.
This writing will also take a look at how divorce can be minimized in order to circumvent negative effects on preschool, school and adolescent aged children. The impact of divorce on preschool, school aged and adolescent children needs to be understood in order to prevent long term emotional, mental, social and psychological issues later in life. Preschool Preschool aged children generally marked from ages 4 to 5 years old have been found to have negative effects from divorce. Studies have engaged the personality traits of preschoolers to determine the impact of divorce . The main reference has been made to the attachment theory.
This theory supports the idea that preschool children are affected by divorce emotionally . Attachment theory developed by John Bowlby is the bond between the child and the caregiver and plays a serious role in the developmental stages of growth. Preschoolers use their attachments as safety nets to depend on when exploring the world outside them. During the preschool years children will be attached to one or both parents and divorce causes an upset in that attachment. It has been documented that the attachment security is negatively impacted by divorce (Nair & Murray, 2005).
The impact reflects mostly on the security of attachment. The preschool aged child exhibits behaviors of separation anxiety and insecurity. It has been determined that negative effects to attachment will later become issues for older children . The preschool age children do not understand divorce but do understand that upset and the separation and may carry feelings of abandonment and fear of abandonment. Preschool children may feel if parents can divorce, then parents can divorce children. Preschool children are likely to feel responsible for the divorce and for the separated parents .
Preschool children are effected by the custodial parents form of discipline, other children in the home, interaction with other children at school, relationships with teachers, and identifying ith self . All issues could develop into other negative elements later in growth. School Aged School aged children will handle divorce differently than preschoolers and will progress through successful with guidance. However, there are a few behaviors or effects that are characteristic and common of school aged children. Children at this age are affected behaviorally and psychological .
These children tend to internalize the effects of divorce and think that the situation is caused by them. In turn they will think and act as if they have control over the situation. They will blame themselves or the divorce and will think they can get the parents back together if they behave. They will misbehave to get attention. They will act sick or experience true sickness in order to unite their parents. This stage is burdened with the responsibility of getting parents back together and will respond in ways to accomplish this mission . School aged children harbor fear of abandonment.
The greatest effect on school aged children is not being able to see life past divorce. They are uncertain of the future and are confused about the roles to be played. This confusion will cause them o not want to participate at school and make up stories and act out Just to get attention. The combination of the change in parental separation, parenting style, and parental coping skills leads them to behave in unexpected and uncharacteristic ways . These behaviors left unaddressed can lead into greater issues in adolescence. Adolescent The impact of divorce on adolescence can run deep and wide.
Adolescence is affected behaviorally, socially, and psychologically. Children at this age are already experiencing socio-emotional changes and hormonal changes adding divorce can be a recipe for disaster. Since these children are more independent and self-functional the risk are higher for negative behaviors. Adolescence is a time for individualism and self-expression. The negative effects are displayed outwardly. Examples of adolescent behaviors include disobedience, failing school, and legal activities. During the time of divorce adolescence are confused, upset and angry.
The anger drives the adolescent to participate in negative behaviors. They will be more upset with one parent over the other. The way they relate to others and get along with others will be dramatically attected The entire socialization process can be damaged nd without proper guidance could last well into the adult years . Divorce The negative effects of divorce become obvious after discussion. The greatest effects fall upon the children. Divorce is seen as a resolution to a bad marriage. Divorce is occurring more often and with the involvement of children. Preschool, school aged, and adolescence children can be more affected than adults.
The emotional, behavioral, social and psychological effects of divorce are factors of development in life. Taking a proactive approach to divorce could alleviate and circumvent the negative effects on children. With divorce being the number one resolution to a bad marriage coming up with innovative and creative ways to prevent divorce can be difficult. Preventing divorce falls can be done with extending the process of marriage and educating the public before and during the marriage. In order to prevent divorce the state could become more involved with the process of marriage .
In the majority of states the process of marriage involves purchasing a marriage license and standing before a clerk or planning a wedding. It does not take much to get married. If the state were to take more interest in those who are equesting a marriage license and provide mandatory education to those apply, it could decrease the number of divorces. Greater involvement could go as far as outlining the marriage and discussing issues like parenting, education, work and career as well as sexual expectations . These are elements of a marriage that are not always discussed but could be the primary targets for divorce.
In order to prevent divorce the state could mandate education and mentoring at various levels of a marriage. Prior to getting the state license for marriage the state could required counseling and educational classes about what to expect in marriage ife. Couples could discuss expectations and needs. Couples could be mentored by other couples in order to learn healthy ways of communicating and resolving conflict. If a marriage is seemingly in trouble and headed for divorce, the state could mandate marriage counseling and education on healthier ways of resolving conflict.
If the marriage is not salvageable then pre-counseling could be provided for divorce. The process of divorce could be discussed and when children are involved they could be included in the counseling in order to help them adjust prior to the change . Coping Until such measures could be mandated or implemented helping children to cope positively with the changes of divorce is a necessity. The social, emotional, behavioral and psychological effects of divorce despite the age of impact could affect the remaining stages of development when not positively adjusted.
This writer is of the opinion that in order to help children cope they need to be involved in the process. Counseling the children about what divorce means, what to expect, and how things will change is an important element in divorce. Helping children to understand what is going on and what to expect. Children would have a better understanding of how divorce should affect them. It is important for children to know they are not responsible for the divorce and that parents still love them.
It would also be helpful to have the children attend a group with other similar aged children to discuss the effects of divorce and how each one is coping. This would allow the chi Idren to gain support and realize they are not alone in the way that they feel. This would be a facilitated group where the facilitator could direct the discussion and help the children to identify with how they are feeling and work hrough the emotions and ideas. As a professional counselor I would be able to help each party involved by being available for open discussion as well as education. I would meet with the parties individually and as a group.
I would inform the parents about the well-being of the children and make suggestions for family discussion. I would encourage both parents to have discussion with the child(ren) outside of counseling in order to gain the child’s trust and help them to see that because the family is splitting up it is all about the parents and not the child(ren). Conclusion The impact of divorce on preschool, school aged and adolescence is emotional, behavioral, social and psychological. These effects cause issues involving healthy separation, self-esteem, and the development through the stages of growth.
In younger children the effects of divorce are more psychological and effect the attachment of the child and the primary caregiver as well as self confidence to explore the world beyond self. The school aged children internalize the process and the conflict and seemingly take on the responsibility of putting the parents back together. Adolescents can fall into negative and illegal behaviors. These issues can be avoided by minimizing the number of divorces. This could be done with state involvement to mandate the process and the education of marriage.
The mandates should take place before certification for marriage is approved and if necessary during the divorce process. As a counselor this writer would be available to see families through the process of education during conflict and counseling for family and individual children if entering the divorce process. Ulitimately understanding the impact of divorce on children is necessary in order to help children to cope and move ast emotions related to the process of divorce so they do not interfere in the stage development of the child.