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Recognizing and easing children's stress amid divorce

No matter how hard divorcing parents work to focus on their children's well-being, kids will experience stress during and after the break-up. They're likely going to be dividing their time between two households. They may move -- which means changing schools and having to make new friends.

Even if they'll continue to spend the majority of their time in the home they know, no longer having both parents around can be a source of anxiety.

Some kids are more prone to anxiety than others. However, even if your children seem to be adapting well to the changes, it's important to look for both emotional and physical signs of stress. These can include:

  • Regressive behaviors -- returning to behavior they'd outgrown like thumb-sucking, baby talk and bedwetting.
  • Falling grades or other problems at school
  • Exhibiting new fears, such as being afraid of the dark
  • Stomach and digestive issues, including appetite loss

Whatever your relationship with your co-parent, it's essential for the two of you to both be on the lookout for these signs of stress in your children and to work together to ease them. Keeping your kids' new routine as consistent as possible is important. Make the transitions between households calm and drama-free.

If you've done everything you can and the stress of your divorce is still impacting your kids' mental and/or physical well-being, it may be wise to seek the help of a therapist who specializes in helping children and adolescents cope with parental divorce. Your family law attorney can likely recommend one or more therapists in your area who can work with your children (and you) to ease the transition to your "new normal."

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