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Why do children become clingy after a divorce?

On Behalf of | Jan 18, 2023 | Divorce

Although divorce puts a strain on the entire family, children are hit particularly hard. Sometimes, kids may become clingy during or after a Tennessee split. These are a few reasons why this occurs.

Seeking security

Children get a sense of security from their parents, but that can be shattered in a divorce. This can manifest in the child becoming clingy toward one or both parents. They crave the security they’ve always known and want to retain it. While this affects younger children more, older kids can also experience a sense of abandonment and loss of security.

The feeling of losing a parent

When parents get divorced, the child often has a feeling that they are losing a parent. The shift in the family dynamic sees one parent moving out of the marital home; sometimes, one parent gains custody of the kids while the other only gets visitation. In that situation, the child might become clingy toward the parent who moves out.

Anxiety and uncertainty

Children carry the idea that every member of the family belongs together under the same roof. However, divorce changes that theory and causes panic and uncertainty. A child can become clingy toward both parents during this time as they experience anxiety and a feeling of hopelessness. This can affect kids of all age groups; very young children often cry, ask to sleep with a parent or may even resume wetting the bed. Older kids might act out by acting sick to get out of going to school and wanting to cling to a parent instead.

Parents can help their kids during and after divorce by ensuring they have predictable routines. Staying active in the child’s life, respecting how they feel and letting them talk about it can help. However, if reassurance isn’t enough, therapy might be appropriate.