Separation Anxiety: 7 Behaviors to Notice within Children of Divorced Parents

To say that divorce is solely an issue between two adults, impacting no one else, would be a significant understatement, especially when children are involved. In fact, children often bear the brunt of the emotional fallout from their parents’ decision to separate. They may not have the maturity or vocabulary to express their emotional instability, so it’s not uncommon for them to show signs of acting out. 

When parents decide to divorce, it’s crucial to recognize that their children will likely be the most affected by this decision. Children’s frustration, confusion, and stress can manifest in various behavioral changes, ranging from mild acting out to more severe issues. Understanding these behaviors and providing appropriate support can help mitigate the negative impact of divorce on children. 

Brief Overview of Divorce in Islam 

In Islam, divorce, orTalaq,” is allowed but highly discouraged. The process is structured to encourage reconciliation, including waiting periods and attempts at mediation. When a marriage ends, the welfare of children is paramount. Islamic teachings emphasize the need for both parents to remain involved in their children’s lives, promoting a stable and supportive environment despite the separation. 

Separation Anxiety in Kids

Behavior 1: Emotional Withdrawal and Depression 

One of the first signs of separation anxiety in children of divorce is emotional withdrawal. These children may become unusually quiet, isolate themselves, and lack interest in activities they once enjoyed. Depression can also set in, marked by persistent sadness, irritability, and changes in appetite or sleep patterns. Emotional withdrawal is often a coping mechanism, a way for children to protect themselves from the pain of their changing family dynamics. 

Behavior 2: Behavioral Outbursts and Tantrums 

Conversely, some children may react to their parents’ divorce with increased behavioral outbursts and tantrums. These outbursts are expressions of their inner turmoil and confusion. Children might act out at home, school, or in social settings, displaying aggression, defiance, or extreme mood swings. Understanding that these behaviors are rooted in their struggle to process the divorce can help parents respond with patience and empathy. 

Behavior 3: Academic Struggles 

Divorce can significantly impact a child’s academic performance. The stress and distraction of their home life often lead to difficulties in concentrating on schoolwork, resulting in lower grades and decreased participation in school activities. Teachers may notice a decline in the child’s attention span, punctuality, and overall engagement in learning. Supporting children through consistent routines and open communication about their feelings can help mitigate these academic challenges. 

Behavior 4: Increased Anxiety and Stress 

Separation anxiety can also manifest as generalized anxiety and stress. Children may worry excessively about the future, their parents’ well-being, or their own place within the family. This anxiety can present as physical symptoms, such as headaches, stomachaches, or difficulty sleeping. It’s crucial for parents to provide reassurance and maintain as much stability as possible, helping their children feel secure and supported during this turbulent time. 

Behavior 5: Conflict in Loyalty Between Parents 

Children of divorce often experience a sense of loyalty conflict. They may feel torn between their parents, worried about pleasing one at the expense of the other. This internal conflict can lead to guilt, confusion, and increased anxiety. It’s important for parents to avoid placing their children in the middle of their disputes and to reassure them that their love and support remain constant, regardless of the family structure. 

Behavior 6: Regression to Childish Behaviors 

Another common behavior in children experiencing separation anxiety due to divorce is regression to earlier developmental stages. This can include behaviors such as bedwetting, thumb-sucking, or excessive clinginess. Regression is often a way for children to seek comfort and reassurance in a time of uncertainty. Parents should respond with understanding and gentle encouragement, helping their children feel safe while gradually guiding them back to age-appropriate behaviors. 

Behavior 7: Physical Symptoms of Emotional Distress 

Children undergoing significant emotional distress from their parent’s divorce might exhibit physical symptoms. These can include frequent headaches, stomachaches, fatigue, or other unexplained ailments. These physical symptoms are often linked to the emotional strain of the situation. It’s essential for parents to address these complaints seriously, seek medical advice if necessary, and provide emotional support to help their children cope with the underlying stress. 

Separation Anxiety in children


Divorce is a difficult journey for families, and its impact on children is multifaceted. Recognizing the behaviors associated with separation anxiety can help parents and caregivers provide the necessary support and intervention. By understanding and addressing these signs, parents can help their children navigate the challenges of divorce with resilience and strength. In Islam, maintaining a nurturing and supportive environment post-divorce is crucial, ensuring that children continue to thrive despite the changes in their family dynamics. 

If you’re navigating the complexities of divorce with children and witnessing these behaviors, consider reaching out for professional guidance. Ihsan Coaching offers specialized parent coaching to help you understand and guide your child through the emotional challenges of separation anxiety and divorce.  


What are the common signs of separation anxiety in children of divorce?  

Separation anxiety in children of divorce can manifest as emotional withdrawal, behavioral outbursts, academic struggles, increased anxiety, loyalty conflicts between parents, regression to childish behaviors, and physical symptoms of emotional distress.

How can parents help children cope with emotional withdrawal and depression after divorce? 

Parents can help by maintaining open communication, encouraging children to express their feelings, providing consistent routines, and seeking professional counseling if necessary. 

What strategies can parents use to manage behavioral outbursts and tantrums in children post-divorce? 

It is important to understand that these outbursts are expressions of inner turmoil. Parents should respond patiently, set clear boundaries, and seek to understand the underlying emotions.

How can academic struggles in children of divorce be addressed?

Parents can support their children by maintaining regular communication with teachers, creating a structured homework routine, and providing a quiet, stable environment for studying.

What can parents do to alleviate increased anxiety and stress in children after a divorce?  

Parents should offer reassurance, maintain stability, and openly discuss any changes. Encouraging healthy coping mechanisms, such as exercise and hobbies, and seeking professional help if needed can also alleviate anxiety and stress.

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