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Divorce Distress Varies by Age

While most children adjust to life after divorce surprisingly well, some struggle to maintain a sense of normalcy after their parents split. Recognizing when a child is having a hard time coping with divorce is easier when you know what to look for. If you see one or more of these behaviors in your toddler, kid or teenager in the year following your divorce, it may be a sign that your child would benefit from the assistance of a professional counselor.


  • Self-blame for divorce
  • Fear of abandonment
  • Separation anxiety
  • Sleep problems or incontinence
  • Frequent tantrums

School-Aged Children

  • Anxiety or depression
  • Emotional outbursts
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Loyalty to one parent over the other


  • Bad grades
  • Anger
  • Substance abuse
  • Risky sexual activity, especially for girls

Young children tend to blame themselves for their parents' divorce while elementary school-aged children experience emotional problems. High school-aged children tend to take greater risks with their lives after divorce. If you have questions about your child's behavior or want a referral to a professional counselor near you, call the Boys Town National HotlineĀ® at 1-800-448-3000 or email us.