Many people struggle to make the decision of whether or not to divorce. For couples with children, decisions related to divorce are often much more complicated as parents work to reduce the amount of stress and emotional turmoil suffered by a child.

Research proves that maintaining a consistent and predictable schedule is one of the best ways to help a child effectively cope with divorce. Children thrive on routine and crave the security that comes with knowing what to expect and when. For a child whose divorcing or divorced parents aren’t able to agree about a consistent child custody and visitation schedule, a constant state of change and flux can be extremely stressful and negatively impact a child in many ways.

A new study indicates that drinking soda and other sugary beverages may be one way that children of divorce are coping with divorce. For the study, researchers at San Francisco State University asked children whose parents were divorced and still together to keep track of what they ate for five days. Researchers noted that children with divorced parents tended to consume more sugary beverages.

One of the study’s researchers attributes the apparent increase in consumption of these unhealthy beverages to more chaotic and disruptive weekly schedules. The results of this study are important as unhealthy food choices are contributing to soaring U.S. childhood obesity rates.

Additionally, while younger children who are coping with the divorce of their parents may reach for a sugary soda to obtain a quick sugar high, adolescents and teens may act out and attempt to cope in more destructive ways. According to The Heritage Foundation, the risk that a child will use drugs by age 14 is nearly four times greater among those with divorced parents.

Statistics prove that divorce can have a negative impact on children, however, parents can take steps to help a child cope and deal with the changes that accompany divorce in healthier ways. Parents who have concerns about a child’s wellbeing and how he or she is handling a divorce would be wise to seek the advice of a professional counselor or therapist.

Source: Philadelphia Inquirer, “Divorce May Mean Kids Down More Soft Drinks,” March 10, 2015