How do children react to parental alienation tactics?

| Feb 11, 2021 | Divorce |

Parental alienation often puts children in difficult positions. They are stuck between both parents, whom they often love and trust equally at the start. Unfortunately, an alienating parent may stop at nothing to get their way.

This means they often turn to abusive tactics like manipulation and gaslighting to get what they want. Thus, children often react to these tactics in the same way many abuse victims react to forms of abuse.

Anticipating differences in reaction

Psychology Today examines multiple facets of parental alienation. This includes the way children react to parental alienation. First and foremost, every child will react in a different way. Reactions are often determined by the child’s age, maturity level and how close they are to one or both parents. Other factors may include their current mental health and stability.

But the tactics an alienating parent uses also has an effect. Many will change up their tactics if they do not see enough of a change, or if they have not done enough damage to your relationship with your child.

Outward and inward manifestations

Children often react to these tactics in one of two ways. They may express their agitation externally, or direct it internally instead. For those who express it externally, it often manifests in bursts of anger. They could argue with peers and disobey figures of authority. They may pick fights with others. They can seem easily agitated and annoyed.

Those who express it internally may grow withdrawn and closed off. They might stop reaching out to their loved ones. They often seem depressed and display sentiments of guilt and self-blame. In either case, these reactions do not serve your child well. If you notice such symptoms, consider speaking to a legal expert about your options.