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Children Acting Out During Divorce

It is no surprise to many couples who have gone through divorce that children can go through their own adjustments as well. Although there are numerous studies indicating that divorce can affect children’s sense of security, there isn’t a lot of guidance out there on what to do if your child is acting out and becoming part of the conflict when you try to discipline them (termed by some as taking a parent “hostage” during a divorce).

According to experts, children becoming part of the conflict (as opposed to retreating into themselves, for example) can be an expected reaction to divorce in some instances. While it is arguably easy to respond to parents with this issue by offering advice such as “form a united parental front” to nip this behavior in the bud, this is easier said than done, particularly if two parents going through divorce are not on good terms and thus do not communicate well with each other.

Reducing Conflict in Your Divorce

Other advice includes trying to reduce conflict between you and your ex, and increasing stability in your children’s lives in other ways—even involving a counselor, if necessary, as young children often lack the skills necessary to communicate that they are frustrated by a high conflict divorce and instead bring in attention by acting defiant. Parents experiencing this understandably feel concerned that their children will learn to use manipulative skills as a way to relate to others.

In addition to key behaviors that can help provide extra support to ease the tension that some children may be picking up on, parents can also do the following to try and help avoid bringing children into divorce conflict:

  • Avoid verbally blaming the other parent;
  • Try to be consistent with the other parent regarding discipline;
  • Encourage open communication with the other parent; and
  • Be a good listener.

The Best Interests of the Child

Florida courts place the best interests of the child as their primary concern, and this includes the capability of each parent to facilitate and continue a close bond with their child and place the child’s needs first–above their own. Whether or not the child is considered to have a stable, satisfactory environment with you depends on, in part, your ability to provide a consistent routine for the child, which includes discipline.

Expertise in Florida Family Law

Whether you are dealing with divorce or fighting a child custody/timesharing situation, making legal decisions that will impact the future of your family is difficult. Legal advice can help ease the burden and get you where you need to be. Contact Sandra Bonfiglio, P.A. in Broward County for a compassionate attorney who will work to help you achieve your goals.

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