Divorce can cause many toddlers to become more emotional and attached.

Can Divorce Cause Behavior Problems In a Toddler?

by Elizabeth Black

After a divorce, you expected the screaming and arguing to end, but instead find yourself dealing with a screaming, defiant toddler. As hard as a divorce is for the couple, it is often equally hard on the child. During a divorce, it is important to remember that your toddler is still learning how to control his emotions and behaviors. Find comfort in knowing that your toddler's behavior issues will subside as he adjusts.

Regressive Behaviors

Don't be alarmed if your child's learned behaviors seem to be regressing. As she adjusts, you may find her sneaking her pacifier or thumb back into her mouth. Developmental delays and regressions such as these should be tolerated, even if you want to cry when your potty trained child suddenly is not potty trained anymore. As frustrating as these things may be, remember that your toddler is also frustrated.

Emotional Behaviors

Emotional mood swings are common during divorce, not only in you, but especially in your toddler. You are probably used to temper tantrums, but don't be surprised when your toddler begins displaying new emotions. Toddlers can easily pick up on your emotions, and you will find him expressing sadness, anger, disappointment and loneliness through withdrawal and tantrums. Sometimes simply placing your crying toddler safely in his crib will give both of you a much-needed break and chance to deal with your emotions.

Aggressive Behaviors

Divorce hurts, but toddlers biting, hitting and kicking hurt too. Aggressive behaviors such as these tend to appear after divorce, either on you, other children, objects or herself. Don't repress these behaviors, but rather redirect her aggression toward hitting or kicking a ball. If, however, your toddler continues these behaviors for several months, you should consult your doctor or health care professional.

Separation Anxiety

All parents, especially newly divorced parents, look forward to a peaceful night of sleep. Often, though, divorced parents will find themselves being awakened by a screaming toddler. Separation anxiety and fear of the dark may become prominent after the divorce. Your growing toddler may suddenly seem excessively needy and clingy, especially in moments right before separating from you. The newness of the divorce may also instill fear in your toddler toward routine activities such as daycare and bedtime. Having a crying toddler clinging to your leg can be exhausting. Reassure him through loving actions and a simple hug to help him overcome these fears.

About the Author

Elizabeth Black is a middle school educator and freelance writer who lives in Cookeville, Tenn. She has been writing on education-related topics since 2008. Black holds a Bachelor of Science in multidisciplinary studies from Tennessee Technological University.

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