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Low self-esteem in children after separation

Tags: self esteem, children
Content Types: What to expect
Categories: After Separation

Children go through a wide range of emotions when their parents are splitting up.

According to research published in a 2004 Joseph Rowntree Foundation report, it’s common for children of separated parents to experience periods of unhappiness, low self-esteem and even have behavioural problems.

Children with low self-esteem may suffer from the following:

  • Social withdrawal
  • Anxiety
  • Bouts of sadness

Children with low self-esteem may also find it difficult to accept compliments, put focus on the negatives, worry about the way they treat others, and feel reluctant to do things.

The impact of conflict on children

Historically, research suggests that conflict has a negative effect on a child’s feeling of self-worth. Historical research suggests that conflict also has a negative effect on children's self-esteem. Implying that children from unhappy, together homes, could experience the same consequences as those from separated homes and if the conflict does not stop these consequences may be more long-term.

What’s the solution?

For the majority of children, a good relationship between separated parents – particularly separated parents who are able to communicate well with one another – will help them settle back into a normal pattern of development.

Try taking steps to improve the communication between you and your ex-partner. Our free online course Getting It Right For Children may be helpful – as might our free online parenting plan.

However, it’s important to note that not all children are able to return to ‘the norm’. Some other factors, such as the child’s temperament, or other stresses they experience, may make things harder for the child.

Talking to your child

If you’re worried about how your child is coping since the separation, take the time to talk to him or her. Find out how your child is feeling and make sure to reassure them that they are not to blame for the breakdown between you and your ex partner.

Learn more about how your child may be feeling by reading Coping with your child’s reactions.

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