Children's Behavior in the Classroom During & After a Divorce

by Anna Green Google

    The effects of divorce on your child’s classroom behavior will vary based on the climate in your household during the divorce, your child’s disposition and her ability to handle change. According to the University of New Hampshire Cooperative Extension, “the most important factor for children’s well-being seems to be limiting the amount and intensity of conflict between parents.” In short, you can minimize such disturbances by limiting your child’s exposure to negative dynamics.

    Depression

    California child therapist Lori Rappaport, writing at Growingupgreat.com, explains that depression is common among children whose parents are divorcing or who have recently divorced. Your child’s depression might present in the classroom through tearfulness and being sad and withdrawn. Likewise, a child who was once talkative in class might become withdrawn and quiet and have difficulty coping with any academic pressures or challenges. These depressive symptoms might make it difficult for your child to perform to his full potential.

    Aggression and Anger

    Aggression and anger are also typical responses to divorce in children. In the classroom, your child might refuse to comply with his teacher’s requests, do his homework or cooperate with classmates. Both during and after a divorce, your child might become aggressive toward other child, engage in bullying behaviors or lash out physically when frustrated. Your child might blame her behavioral problems on others and refuse to take responsibility for her inappropriate behaviors.

    Effects of Stress

    According to the website for the Plainview-Old Congress of Teachers, children of divorce might become distant and anxious in the classroom. They might forget their homework, get caught up in day dreams and report physical complaints such as a stomachache or headache. In most cases, these effects, which can affect your child’s grades and behavioral reports, are often a response to stress and instability at home. For example, adjusting to visitation schedules, moving out of the family home or adapting to new child care arrangements can make a child feel stressed, insecure and anxious.

    Lack of Noticeable Changes

    While many children show distinct behavioral changes in response to a divorce, other children might not display outward signs of distress. Your child might continue to behave appropriately and meet academic milestones. This does not mean that your child is not affected by the divorce, however. Even if your child is not displaying behavioral changes in school, she might still be feeling strong emotions but keeping them hidden so she doesn't hurt you or her other parent.

    About the Author

    Anna Green spent seven years as a self-employed legal writer before becoming a therapist for children and adolescents. After earning degrees in political science and English, she attended law school and then pursued a degree in mental health counseling. In addition to her writing work, she is the founder of a nonprofit mental health group.

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