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A new study has found that kids of certain age are more likely to experience emotional and behavioural problems when their parents get a divorce.

A first of its kind study from University College London has explored the link between divorce and the mental wellbeing of children as a result. The research examined over 6000 children and tracked their mental health at various stages of their childhood and adolescence, uncovering some interesting findings.

What’s The Damage?

The study found that children who were slightly older, identified as between the ages of 7 and 14, experienced a 16% increase in emotional problems, such as anxiety, as a result of their parents divorce when compared to younger children. Those between the ages of 3 and 7 were found to have no increased risk when compared to children of the same age who had not experienced divorce. Professor Emla Fitzsimons, co author of the study, suggested that this may be because older children have a better understanding of the situation and greater sensitivity to the emotional implications for all involved. “Family break ups may also be more disruptive to schooling and peer relationships at this stage of childhood,” she said.

It was also found that boys who experienced their parents divorce were more likely to exhibit disobedient behaviour than girls, but the study could not identify a clear reason for this. Divorce is never an easy process, no matter how well it is handled, so it’s always a good idea to seek additional support for children when needed and keep the lines of communication, with both parents where possible, open.

Have you got a top tip for helping children through a divorce? Let us know in the comments!

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  • I’m so glad I never had to experience this! My parents were together til the end and I didn’t divorce either. Mind you, staying together can sometimes bring with it a whole new level of damage to kids, no matter how happy you think you are in your relationships

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  • The best tip I can give is to never bad-mouth the person you are divorcing. A gentle ‘ this is a problem between your dad and I, but we both still love you heaps’, goes a long way to settling the child I found.

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  • Every child is different though. Would also depend how cival the divorce was

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  • My son didn’t know anything about it but I regularly took My daughter to a psychologist as she found itdistressing


    • That was very good of you. I wished my parents had done the same with me.

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  • I suppose a divorce can always be damaging and even more so at a more vulnerable age.

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  • There are so many things that can impact on a child’s development.

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  • SO many factors that also contribute to emotional damage to keep in mind.

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  • Hard on any kid I’m sure, but as long as both parents put in the effort they can limit the difficulties

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  • I don’t think there is ever a good time.

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  • My brother and I were both between 7-14 when our parent divorced :(

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  • That makes sense, when children are young they don’t understand much, the older they become the more they realise and can see the impact on them. Never easy but sometimes needs to be done.

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  • There is never a good time for a divorce for all involved. At the same time, if there is a lot of fighting and yelling it would be more traumatic for the children if you stay together. Just make sure that the children still get the love from both parents and never try to turn the children against the other parent.

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  • My parents separated when I was 14. It was hard but also necessary, after all those years of fighting. I am quite an anxious person. I am not sure about the relation with that though.

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  • Is there ever a good time? I am so thankful that my parents were always very loving towards each other and still love each other. Their’s is definitely a forever kind of love.

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  • I’m not sure when my parents did, but I know I was 5 when we moved away

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