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How does divorce affect children according to their age?

How does divorce affect children according to their age?

December 3, 2022

Relationships are never easy . Many times what seemed like it could last a lifetime stops working, taking the decision to end the relationship.

Separation or / and divorce may or may not be a complicated process and cause deep suffering to one or both members of the couple. However, when the couple in question has children, it is necessary to take into account that it is also going to have an effect on their lives. That the parents treat the subject with them with tranquility and normalizing the situation is essential so that they can process it. But we must bear in mind that a child of four years does not have the same cognitive capacity as a child of ten.


In this article we are going to observe how divorce can affect children according to their age or how it can be interpreted according to age. We will also see how this delicate subject can be discussed with them.

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Children in divorce

The divorce process can be complex to understand for a child . The child may not understand why his parents no longer want to be together when they have always been, or even to think that he or she may have been at fault because of their parents separating. Treating the issue with them is essential.


Have the age you have. You need to know that the divorce is not for something he is responsible for, that the doubts are solved and explained to him in a clear way and adjusted to his abilities. He must be allowed to be wrong and not criminalize his emotions regarding the situation, but this does not mean that limits and routines should be eliminated. Likewise it is important not to try to put him against the other parent , and unless there are reasons for this to allow contact between the child and both parents.

Keep in mind that the child may react by manifesting different emotions and thoughts, or it may be a shock that causes initially not to have a reaction. The child may take a long time to manifest the pain, as he may enter into a state of grief and initially deny that the divorce will occur. It is important to ensure that the process is lived in a normalized way and with the least possible stress, because if the divorce is not well taken and treated in the home it can generate frustration and anxiety. Eternizar the procedures or try to pretend that nothing happens, also, can prolong the situation and cause more suffering.


On the other hand, we must understand that although the divorce of the parents is a painful event for the minor this you do not have to assume that the boy or girl have some type of subsequent trauma, especially considering that currently it is usual to see minors with divorced or separated parents. In fact, it is more important to manage the event and how it is represented and lived in the home than the fact of the separation itself.

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Psychological effects in minors of separation from parents

Here is how divorce can be taken by children of different ages and a few indications of how you might try to communicate the decision to divorce.

1. Divorce in children under two years

When the divorce occurs at a moment in time when the son or daughter is a baby, this one does not have enough intellectual capacity to understand what is happening . However, the changes in the routines and the emotional state of the parents can be captured, which can lead to fear, sadness, aggression and crying.

The most important thing at this age is that the child does not perceive the separation as an abandonment on the part of one of their parents, being necessary that both can access the child with sufficient frequency. You can also give an explanation of the situation, with a simple and adjusted language.

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2. When they are between two and three years of age

It is at this stage of development that children begin to acquire speech and psychomotor skills, as well as several milestones in the acquisition of cognitive skills. It is common to see setbacks in the skills learned for the child as a result of stress, such as enuresis or encopresis. They tend to be more shy and have nightmares.

They also begin to be aware of their emotions but still not knowing how to express them correctly. They often feel abandoned, or fantasize about the return of the couple.

In this evolutionary moment It is useful to help you express your emotions s , motivate him and make him see that both parents appreciate him.Despite the situation, you should not stop maintaining a certain routine and the usual limits of behavior should be maintained.

3. Between three and seven years

As children grow, so do their cognitive abilities.

In this vital stage it is necessary to bear in mind that they are in a period in which their vision of the world starts from themselves, and in which, in addition, there is often magical thinking. In other words, they are in an egocentric phase that can lead to think that the break is his fault and in which they can also fear that they stop being loved. They tend to become extremely obedient and / or deny the breakup of a partner.

Therefore, in this vital stage, divorce must be communicated in an understandable way, as well as guarantee you that you are loved and you will not leave and that he has no fault of separation.

4. Between seven and twelve years of age

In this time, children have learned that there are different perspectives and feelings apart from their own and understand that their parents may be suffering, which is why they may not communicate their thoughts about it. You may experience obvious declines in your school performance or Behavioral problems such as fights with other students .

In this stage the minor understands the situation, and it is very important to explain both the situation and the changes that are going to occur. However, they may still fantasize about the possible reconciliation of the parents, in which case it may be necessary to make them understand that this will not happen.

5. Adolescents and their parents' divorce

Once adolescence arrives, the youngest child will gradually build their identity and will gradually reach an understanding of situations. In the context of a badly worn divorce it is possible to blame one of the parents , that experience a rebellion even greater than usual is this vital stage, that they resort to risk behaviors. They may also try to act as confidants or protect their parents.

As a recommendation at this stage, it is important to communicate the situation clearly and share certain aspects such as custody, as well as not assigning roles that do not correspond to it and monitoring risk behaviors.

Bibliographic references:

  • Benedek, E.P. and Brown, C.F. (1999). How to help your children overcome divorce. Spain: Medical Editions.
  • Liberman, R. (1983). The children before the divorce. Barcelona: Home of the book.
  • Maganto, C. (1988). Marriage, separation, divorce and new partners. In: A. Espina (Ed.): Family relationships and their problems. University of the Basque Country. College Extension Notebooks. Editorial Service.
  • Mauldon, J. (1990) The Effect of Marital Disruption on Children's Health. Demography; 27 (3): 431-446.
  • Peterson, J.L. and Zill, Z. (1986). Marital disruption, parent-child relationships and behavior problems in children. Journal of Marriage and the Family, 48, 295-307.

Getting a Divorce with Kids: What Parents Need to Know (December 2022).


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