Children of Divorce – Conflict and its Effects

children of divorce
Soila Sindiyo Child Trauma Therapist Founder of The Divorce Magazine
Soila Sindiyo
Child Trauma Therapist
Founder of The Divorce Magazine

Arguing or disagreeing with your partner is not unusual, it’s a normal part of life.

It happens and will continue to happen as long as you’re together. Yes, I know there are some of you out there who say you “never” have disagreements.  Not sure how you do it but there you go…

Your children will see this happen but they will also see you make up and continue with your life and love as you wish.

These arguments, disagreements and make up sessions teach your children a lot including that not only do people disagree and argue but they can also make up and continue with their day.  Such is life really.

But when we speak of conflict, where things get nasty and personal, where it’s not just words that are used as weapons but bodies and objects as well, then we wreak havoc in the lives of our little ones.

And in case you’re wondering, stonewalling or giving each other the silent treatment is no better a way of dealing with these situations.  It is still very distressing.  As most people know by now, even little babies can feel the tension in the atmosphere.

When children are struggling and don’t quite get what is going they very often will show their distress in behaviour rather than words.

Whether you’re living together or not, doesn’t matter.  If you know that your child is growing up in an environment where conflict is part of his/her regular life then below is a list of behaviours that you might need to be aware of:

Children of Divorce:

  • Increased clinginess
  • Increased fears and insecurities
  • Low self-esteem
  • A lack of belonging, feeling lost
  • No impulse control – so whereas he/she was dry before, they have now started to wet themselves be it in the night or in the day
  • Children of Divorce
    Children of divorce – we need to know what they need to thrive between two households

    Feelings of helplessness

  • Exhibiting aggressive behaviour
  • Yelling at other kids  – trouble at school including performance
  • Feeling fearful, unsure of the future
  • Embarrassed to bring friends over
  • Physical symptoms such as stomach aches
  • Loss of or increased appetite
  • Trouble sleeping or remaining asleep
  • Increased restlessness

Thing is when children grow up seeing and experiencing conflict it does change who they are, it does change their world and the way they see it and relate to it.

If you’re going through divorce and it’s proving to be a high conflict one then find ways of protecting your children from as much pain and hurt as possible.

If you are concerned that your child has been negatively affected by the on-going or past conflict, then begin by acknowledging this with them.  Tell them that you understand it has been hard on them and that you wish it had never happened.

There is so much power in words and acknowledging their pain can ease so much of that burden that the carry.  Then find other ways to keep the conflict at bay.

If you think they need to work it through with someone then do find someone who can help.  This person could be at school or a peer who’s been through the same situation or a professional.

Handled properly, they can overcome this experience, handled badly they will be one of those children whom way into adulthood, continue to live with the repercussions of their parents’ divorce. – see here –

I always say, it’s not the divorce that counts, it’s how it’s handled.




Soila is the founder of The Divorce Magazine and creator of the online course – Helping Children Cope with Divorce

She is known for taking away the pain of trauma and loss in children, adolescents and their families and is the author of “When Love is Broken. A read-together book for children and parents going through divorce and separation.

Soila holds an MSc in Psychoanalytic Developmental Psychology from UCL (University College London), is an accredited Positive Parenting Program (Triple P) practitioner and a trained Family Mediator.

Soila is Graduate Member of the British Psychological Society and Affiliate member of Resolution.

You can contact her on 07850 85 60 66 or via email 


  1. Great article. My sons experienced these behaviours before our divorce and healed after it. I stayed too long in the marriage, erroneously thinking it was better for the boys to have both parents in the house. My sons complained the minute I filed for divorce, that it wasn’t done earlier. Hindsight sure is 20/20.

  2. Dear Soila,

    Thanks for this post. Hm, l even pingbacked it in my rent post here before having the time to comment.

    So this time around, l write as one of those kids, who now has also left such kids.

    Ah life with its twists and turns. I identify with lots of what you analyse up there and well l am here now and the cycle is there.

    Thanks once more the post.

    Regards, Marie

    • Thanks Marie. Children do often lack the words to express how they feel and at times even they don’t know why they feel as they do. As parents who know our children well, we will or need to be able to tell when things are not right by them or for them and make the changes necessary to make sure they are alright.

      Thanks again.


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