In my capacity as an outpatient psychologist, I have
worked with children of all ages for over twenty years.
Usually parents drag their kids into my office complaining
of a litany of bad behaviors, ranging from not cleaning up
their rooms, to getting bad grades, hitting their siblings,
or worse, stealing, fighting or doing drugs. I work with
parents to change their children’s behavior. It is very
helpful for the parents to know their children’s experiences,
especially after a divorce. This article lists the behaviors
that signal big trouble.
Some children decompensate in the face of severe divorce
or post-divorce parent wars. Try as I might, I cannot stop
some parents from engaging in a verbal or even physical
free-for-all–an all out attack on the other parent, usually
to the great consternation and detriment of the child.
Sometimes parents carry so much enmity towards each other
that they cannot refrain from attacking or criticizing the
other parent. I have seen parents be so mad they almost lose
their ability to think rationally. Or, sometimes children just
are more sensitive, so even if the divorce is more amicable,
the children may still fall apart. This is more likely to
happen when there are too many big differences between the
estranged adults’ houses. Kids have too hard a time adapting,
going back and forth between venues that sometimes can be almost
opposites in rules, expectations or norms. During these times,
children can feel intensely negative and may not have any healthy
outlet. Even counselors cannot spare some of these children;
cannot fully process or even divert, much less absorb the full
impact of such parent-induced problems. Kids who are in the
middle of these storms simply implode.
The following is a list of “red-alert” behaviors that are
cause for immediate action. If the above parental behaviors
cause a child to evince any of the below behaviors, take him or
her to the nearest licensed therapist as soon as possible.
1) Severe sleep problems (less than five hours per night).
2) Regression in toilet training.
3) Poor concentration, chronic forgetfulness or sharply declining
grades (within the last month, and showing no signs of improving).
4) Drug or alcohol ab/use.
5) Running away or even disappearing for very long, uncharacteristic
6) Sexual promiscuity.
7) Self-injury, cutting.
8) Raging moods-extreme ups or downs
9) Changes in eating habits resulting in significant weight gain
10) Suicidal thoughts or gestures with or without a “plan.”