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Divorce Basics: Recognizing the Signs and Symptoms of Maladjustment in Your Child

Posted on in Child Custody

Wheaton family law attorneysThe divorce process can have a negative impact on all involved parties, but child experts say that it is children who are at the greatest risk for long-term, negative effects. Part of this can be attributed to their lack of control in the situation, but there are other aspects of a divorce that can increase a child’s risk of developing mental, emotional, or behavioral issues during the process. For example, studies suggest children are more likely to suffer from maladjustment if interactions between their parents are contentious or tumultuous during the proceedings. 

What is Childhood Maladjustment? 

Childhood development is a complex process. Its course is determined by both nature and nurture - or what some would call a child’s environment and genetic makeup. Major events that change the dynamics of a family, whether positive or negative, can also have an impact on a child’s development. The birth of a sibling is usually seen as a positive influence, as they must learn to share their time, toys, and attention, which can ultimately make them more compassionate and empathetic people. 

Divorce tends to be seen as a negative influencer. It can leave children feeling at fault for the dissolution of their parent’s marriage. Fighting and tumultuous proceedings can also cause the child to feel as though they have to choose a side in the divorce, which can significantly impact their relationship with both parties - not just the parent that they attempt to snub. Some struggle to adjust when one parent leaves the home. Others may feel as though their entire world has been turned upside down, which may cause them to develop symptoms of depression or anxiety. 

All of these issues are considered a form of maladjustment, which can display itself in numerous ways. Examples might include: 

  • Withdrawing from family or friends;
  • No longer taking an interest in favorite hobbies or activities;
  • Poor or declining performance at school;
  • Separation anxiety or excessive clinginess;
  • A constant need for reassurance or affirmation;
  • Drug or alcohol use;
  • Mood swings;
  • Excessive crying or tantrum throwing; or
  • Any other behavior that seems out of character for the child. 

Dealing with Maladjustment in Your Child

Maladjustment issues do not have to permanently impact children. Parents who recognize the signs and symptoms early on can work to reduce stress for the child. They can also enroll the child in therapy or a support group to give them a safe space to discuss their feelings about the divorce. Perhaps the most important step, however, is for parents to treat one another kindly (or at least professionally) during and after proceedings, and to work toward an amicable agreement on all divorce matters. Parents may also want to consider a 50-50 parenting time split, as studies suggest this may be the most beneficial parenting time plan for the child; just make sure you discuss the matter with an attorney before making a final decision.

Contact Our Wheaton Divorce Lawyers

At Davi Law Group, LLC, we work hard to protect the interests of children in divorce. Seasoned and experienced, our DuPage County divorce attorneys can help you negotiate a parenting plan that hopefully benefits the entire family. Call 630-580-6373 to schedule a consultation today. 



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