Withdrawn children do not always communicate with words. Their responses to their parents’ separation may be expressed in behaviour.
Some children become very withdrawn and avoid talking about the separation or the absent parent. Others (particularly if they are younger) may become very ‘clingy’ and not want to let the parent they are with out of their sight. These children feel they have ‘lost’ the departing parent and are determined not to lose their remaining parent.
Others may ‘regress’ in their behaviour – they may act younger than they did before the separation, talk in baby talk or fall back in their toilet training. Some may have nightmares, others may become rebellious, difficult to handle or aggressive with other children and even their parents. These are some of the ways your children might show their distress. This is their signal that they need your special attention. With time, most of these behavioural problems disappear. However, if they persist over a long period it is best to seek some help.
Child psychologists regularly counsel and assist parents whose children are not coping or reacting well with parental separation. Contact your children’s general practitioner or paediatrician for more information. A Mental Health plan can be produced for referral to a psychologist who specialises in child development.