School year helpful tip #5: School anxiety & the older child of divorce



While younger children may revert back to separation anxiety that equates to a toddler separating from their parent, older children of divorce may have issues also.

The older child of divorce worries and wonders about many issues concerning the divorce. The thoughts whirling around in their heads and the stress they are under can interfere with the start of school and throughout the school year also.

Many children of divorce may be left home alone before school. The parent depends on the child to get themselves up and ready for school. Other kids may have to go home alone after school. Many times this is due to financial restraints of not being able to pay for a sitter or afterschool care.

For other parents they just don’t think about the pressure being home alone places on a child. To them their child seems responsible and they trust their child.

The older child who has to be at home alone before or afterschool will have a different set of worries.

  1. Did I remember to get the house key so I can get in afterschool?
  2. Did I remember to lock the back door after I let the dog out?
  3. Did I remember to put the dog out with his water and food?
  4. Did I remember to turn off the TV and computer?
  5. Will Mom be really mad if I forgot again?
  6. What if someone tries to break in while I’m alone before mom gets home?
  7. What if someone broke in while we were gone and they are still in the house?
  8. Did dad remember to get me some snacks to eat afterschool?
  9. Am I supposed to start dinner tonight?

And the list goes on. Many children are told to go home, lock the door, do not answer the door if someone rings the bell. They are not to have friends in when the parent is not home. This type of environment can cause loneliness in kids who don’t need to be alone with their stressors and thoughts.

How can you help the single parent?

  • Offer to check up on the child periodically afterschool.
  • Find families in your church who have children the same grade in the same school and ask if they can take the child in before or afterschool.
  • Help the single parent develop a checklist so the child can check off what he or she is supposed to do before school.
  • Suggest the child text the single parent when they are ready to leave for school.
  • Be a listening ear for the child afterschool. This can be done via text.
  • Find possible mentors who can pick up a child afterschool and spend one afternoon a week with them.
  • Hold a class to teach children what to do in case someone is trying to break into their home or has broken into their home.
  • Invite a police officer to speak to the kids about safety issues.
  • Host a first aid class so if something happens, the child will be prepared.

If you want to go deeper into safety issues, host a seminar for the parents and educate them about children and the Internet especially pornography. Younger and younger children are viewing online porn. Educate the single parent about issues of girls home alone. The majority of teen pregnancies occur between the hours of 3:00 and 6:00 pm. The vary hours they are home alone after school.

What can you do to help lessen school anxieties for the child of divorce?


DC4K blogs posts are great to use in training children’s leaders and volunteers and they are free.  Subscribe to the DC4K blog here.

Want to learn more about how to start a DivorceCare for Kids group for the hurting children in your community? Click here.

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