How to Deal With An Angry Child After Divorce
Divorce brings out the worst in people. Even an exceptional parent is likely to lose focus on what is best for his children. This, in turn, makes the children feel either unwanted or mistreated. In most cases, a parent cannot distinguish his bad feeling towards the ex-partner from his feelings towards the children. If these feelings are left to spill over, it can damage the relationship with the children.
Depending on their age and other factors, children will respond differently to divorce. For most children, it will have a short term impact which can last up to one year. During this period, they may show some behavioral changes. These changes may vary from mild acting out to serious destructive behaviors. This is because they are not emotionally mature to understand why divorce is taking place.
The behavioral changes may include low self-esteem; less contact with the parents increased anger and decreased living standards. Just like adults, they are likely to suffer from psychological difficulties.
Anger is a mask that most people wear to conceal hurt. Until the kids are able to openly express their feelings to you without you trying to cheer them up, they will be angry. It is okay for them to feel sad or cry and you trying to comfort them as they come to terms living without both parents.
As a parent, you can help your child turn his anger over your separation into acceptance. You can do this by being there for them. It is crucial as a divorced parent to put away your hurt feelings and anger and help your child deal with his. For you to achieve this, you need to set standards for yourself which will help you better meet your child’s needs. When you set standards and sometimes with the help of a therapist, you can be successful in helping your kid deal with anger.
Almost every child going through separation has anger issues. There might be exceptions, but very few if any. If your child is dealing with a divorce and he does not show anger, don’t be comfortable with that. Any child who seems calm or cheerful during the separation process is hurting in the inside. In most cases, such children will, later on, express their anger in a very destructive way such as depression, delinquency and substance abuse. Besides that, anger that is turned inwards can be seen in the physical weakness of the child. Therefore, watch for such signs and find professional help for your child.
Every divorce will affect the involved children. Most of the time, their initial reaction will be shock, worry, frustration, sadness, and anger. However, sometimes children can come out of the divorce to be able to better cope with stress and become more tolerant and flexible young adults.
Because divorce has become so prevalent, don’t think that your separation will not affect your children. For instance, in America, 40-50% of marriages end up in divorce. But because divorce occurs, that does not guarantee that your child will not become angry. You need to recognize that divorce affects your children.
When there a conflict at home, the children are likely to respond in three major ways: first, they will hide their emotions. They mostly do this out of good motives – they don’t want their parents to know what they are feeling. If your child hides his feelings and you don’t know it, it means you don’t know your child. The second way is to become aggressive. They act out what they have seen in their parents. Most of the time, the anger is lashed out on the parents or at other people. Most of the time, they will not understand why they are angry. The third response is confrontation. The kids will confront their parents. This is the most effective way for children to deal with their anger because it helps them to express their feelings.
What to Do
The first thing that you and your child can do is find an amicable way of understanding anger. As a general principle, anger as an emotion is normal, healthy and appropriate. Therefore, help your child not to suppress it. However, you need to find a healthy way through which you can deal with it. This is because if it is not handled well, it can lead to either destruction of property or hurt others.
One of the best ways to deal with our feelings is to express them. Angry children should be encouraged to talk about their feelings. However, when a child expresses his anger, it can be raw and very hurting. As a parent, you should be able to handle your child’s expression of his anger without you becoming angry. Ensure that you do not argue or reprimand your child for expressing himself once you have encouraged him to open up.
If you know that you cannot be able to handle the raw expression of your child’s anger, consider using the services of a therapist. A therapist will help your child to work on his feelings in such a way that it will not seem like bad manners. Apart from that, it will help keep the lines of communication open between you and your child.
There is greatest need to handle the issue of angry children more especially when the father is absent. In this case, the single mother should allow the child to meet the father. The father should also be able to allow the child to express his anger openly. If you are a father who is absent, learn to help your child express his anger. You can do so by expressing your own anger but never express your anger towards the child’s mother in an honest and open manner. Under such circumstances, the child will feel free to express his anger as well.
The following are some of the most crucial things that both parents can do to help their children through a divorce:
- Minimize disruptions to the children’s daily activities or routines
- Both parents should be involved in the child’s life
- Ensure that heated arguments, visible conflict, and legal discussions are kept away from the children
- All negative and blame talks should be avoided in the presence of kids.
Awareness and Prevention
It is not abnormal for your child to become angry after your divorce. The feeling of anger is part of the many emotions that your child will experience due to the changes that are taking place in his life. As much as you cannot control how your child will react to your divorce, you can take precautions by monitoring your child’s emotions.
You can do by looking for signs of depression or aggression. You can find out by talking to those people that spend more time with your children such as coaches, teachers and other adult people around him. It can be helpful to keep a diary of your kid’s behavior. It can be helpful to help your child deal with his emotions.
Apart from that, engage your ex-spouse about your child’s behavioral changes. This may be helpful because you can notice one trait and the other partner notice something different. Recognizing your child’s reaction to different environmental changes will help you offer him the right help to deal with his anger.
Check Your Own Behavior
It is paramount for you as a divorced parent to be aware of your own behavior when around the child. Your words and actions have a big impact on your child’s reaction. Some behaviors like sulking in sadness, anger outbursts, talking badly about the other parent in front of your child can lead to anger.
Always remember as a parent you are a behavioral pattern for your child. If you show anger in front of your child, he is likely to pick it from you. Therefore, it is crucial to work on your behavior and then you can be able to help your child deal with his emotions.
Once you notice that your child has started to behave is a certain way, it is good to address is instant. Most of the time many parents feel they are responsible for the divorce and the guilt leads them to allow their children to develop certain behaviors after the divorce. By allowing your child to continue with the anger issue, for example, it can worsen and have a long term effect. Anger is likely to affect the child’s emotional wellbeing and health.
Help your Child with Emotional Intelligence
Your child might not be able to express himself as to why he is behaving in a certain way. As a parent, you should be able to understand your child’s internal motivation. Being able to express your feelings is a skill that is learned over time. you should be able as a parent to help your kid learn this skill while young.
Talking to your child freely and encouraging them to do so will help them understand that their actions are related to their emotions. As a parent, talk to your child about what you have observed and how it is likely to affect your relationship. You should be able to explain to your child that you have their best interest at heart and they should be able to outgrow the behavior.
Your child needs to know that his feeling of being upset means something to you. Assure him that you take his feelings seriously. Speak words that show you understand their feelings. Words such as, “I know it feels lonely without mum/dad” allows your child to know that you also feel the absence of the other partner.
It’s important to encourage your child to manage his anger before you can begin offering any form of help. Let him know it’s okay to feel angry and reassure him of the future.
Handling Your Child’s Reaction
Tell your child who is angry about your divorce that you recognize and appreciate their feeling. After that, reassure him that his feeling of upset if normal and you understand it. If your child is not ready to express his feeling to you, give them time to be ready.
Sometimes their anger might be as a result of fear. Some of the questions that might be the cause of anger include:
- Can I still be able to do my favorite activities?
- Who am I going to live with?
- Where will my parents live?
- Which school will I go to?
- Will I be able to see my friends?
- Will we relocate?
Be very honest to answer such questions which might make your child feel afraid or guilty of what is happening. By telling him exactly what he needs to know might help him deal with his anger.
Put Your Relations with Your Child First
You should not put any other relationship before that of your child first. You might be interested in starting a new relationship, but it should not distract you from your relationship with your child because he is angry with you. So, let no other relationship stop you from mending your relationship with your child who is angry. You may feel lonely and rejected, but for your child’s good, stay strong for him.
Love Your Child
As mentioned earlier, your child may express his anger is a raw and unpleasant manner. You might hold them accountable for their words but do not take their hurtful words to heart. Even if they hurt you with their words, love your child still.
Remember that your child’s words are influenced by emotional feelings and at the moment their tender emotional feelings matter more than yours.
Openly express your love for your child and let him know by actions that you love him. When your child knows that you love him, it is likely to help him deal with his anger issues faster.
Seek Professional Help
Anger that is related to divorce is likely to persist up to one year. However, if it persists longer than that, then the best thing to do is seek professional help for your kid.
Mental health professional, therapists, and counselors are better equipped to help your child deal with his anger issues. In some cases, the child might feel comfortable expressing their anger to a person who is not directly related to their family.
The most important aspect of getting professional help is going to the sessions with your child. By going with them it shows him that you are not stopping at anything to help him. However, if your child refuses to attend the sessions, don’t force him. Instead, attend the sessions yourself and learn how to help your child deal with his emotions.
Besides that, a professional may be able to notice some possible effects of the anger on your child’s health. Therefore, for persistent anger, it is better to enlist the help of a professional. Besides your child benefiting from the therapist, you might also find help to deal with your divorce. If you also have anger issues due to the separation, you might as well find help by talking to the professionals.
Change of behavior by children after a divorce is a common reality for thousands of parents. But there is hope. Parents can walk with their children through this process to make things better for everyone. Monitoring your child’s emotions, communicating, patience and knowing when things get out of hand to seek help is crucial in helping your child deal with his anger after your separation.
Management of emotions after a separation is a healthy way of dealing with anger issues. Working on your child’s anger now will help avert more serious issues later on in life.
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As a single parent, you can find help from other single parents who are experiencing the same. Sharing what you are going through with other single parents can help you learn new ideas as to how to deal with your angry child. Do not store up your feelings and die alone when dealing with your child’s anger.
Since children deal with divorce differently, all that the child needs is loving support from you as a parent to adjust to the new reality. With your parental help in coming to terms with the separation, your child’s anger is likely to subside. Ensure that you yourself are getting the necessary support that you require so that you can be there for your child.