The Child’s Grieving Process In Divorce Proceedings: School Age Children

School age children will show their grief about their parents’ divorce by continuing the me-centric thinking of the pre-school child: that they are at fault for the divorce. Elementary school age children (5 to 11 years old) will feel torn between parents and may even take sides or feel responsible for taking care of both of their parents’ feelings. They may experience feelings of loss, anger, guilt, rejection and sadness. They may also appear tearful, anxious, or irritable.

Children between 5 and 11 years old sometimes believe they can “magically” change things and get their parents back together by behaving in a certain way. Their attempts to control their parents’ divorce can extend to other situations. For example, their school performance may decline or they may complain of not feeling well. Adults in their lives can encourage elementary school age children to express their feelings. They can also continue to provide structure and routine for the child. False hopes of reconciliation and unnecessary power struggles with the child should be avoided. And just know that even though you and your spouse may be fighting, it is very important the child’s relationship with the other parent is encouraged.

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