Tantrums caused by our divorce

Recently my husband and I divorced. I moved out with my eight-month-old and my three-year-old. Over the last six months my oldest child has been whining and screaming when he doesn't get his way. Is this typical behavior for children of this age or could the divorce be affecting my son more than we realize?

Question:

Three is usually a calm time for children, a little break from the rigors and difficulties of the growth spurts associated with ages two and four. It would not be at all surprising if your son was indeed suffering from the effects of your recent separation from your husband.

It is not unusual for children to become upset when they have to move out of their home, as you have recently done. You can see why all these changes could worry a child. It sounds as if your son needs to talk more about his feelings.

I suggest talking to your son about the divorce at quiet times during the day or evening. Buy a book about divorce -- there are many good ones for children. Take your son to a bookstore and let him look through the entire selection and then have him pick one out to take home. Then you can read it to him whenever he wants to hear it.

Make sure to answer any questions he has. And even if he doesn't ask, be sure to tell him that both his parents still love him, and that they will still be taking care of him no matter where any of you live. Young children in divorce situations often worry that they will be abandoned and cannot always express this fear out loud. That is why parents need to do the talking in the beginning. Repeated conversations of this nature should help the tantrums decrease. You may have to deal with a few more until your son starts feeling safe again. I'm afraid your neighbors will have to put up with a little more screaming, because there really is no better way to stop tantrums than just letting your child cry it out. He's entitled to be upset about the divorce, as I'm sure you are. This is his way of showing it. When you hear your son's cries turn from anger to sadness or fatigue, you can pick him up and hug him until he stops crying. I'm sure both of you can use the extra hugging time!

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