The Needs of 9-12 Year Olds During DivorceThe needs of children in each age group are fairly specific. Each age poses its challenges in helping children cope with the trauma of divorce. It is important for you to consider these challenges and make plans to address them. The following will discuss some of the issues children age 9-12 face.

Peer and Gender Identification

From the age of 9-12, peer group and gender identity formation becomes very important. By this age, children have established a group of friends and have a perception of their identity among fellow classmates. Moreover, they have acquired many of the social norms relevant to their gender. Further, children in this age group have thinking and reasoning skills that are becoming more acute, including deciding what is right and wrong.

At this age, children are likely to side with one parent during a divorce and place all their blame on the other one. They are also likely to show stronger feelings of anger than they did when they were younger. It is important to keep in mind that if a child lashes out in anger at you, it is likely a manifestation of their frustration and fear of having the family unit disrupted.

Your Child's Self-Esteem

One danger in divorce is that the children may internalize the conflict between the parents; in other words, they may come to feel that they are to blame for the marital break-up. They also may feel abandoned. A perception of parental abandonment can negatively affect a child's self-esteem. Both parents need to continue involvement in their child's life during a divorce. Angry conflicts between parents at this time can cause lifelong self-esteem issues as the child grows up.

H. Van Smith
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