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Parents   »   When children are functioning “extra well”

When children are functioning “extra well”

Children cope with parents’ separation in different ways. Sometimes by becoming extra responsible and diligent. But here you can learn more about what you need to consider as a parent if it concerns your child.

A summary of this article below.

How does “extra well” look?

Children respond differently to their parents’ separations. Some children react to the breakup and new family structure by putting on a brave face and becoming responsible and hardworking. Perhaps they don’t want to burden a sad and tired parent with the fact that they are having trouble in school, that they are feeling sad about the separation, or that they need their parents in other ways. For other children, it is about keeping their focus on something they can control, such as their performance in school or in their sport. This can create a stressful cycle of performance that needs to be constantly running for the child to feel calm and in control of their situation. Encourage your children to talk to you about how they’re feeling, and let them know that you are there to listen, no matter what.

Help your child relax

It can be relieving for you as a parent when your child is “functioning well”, taking responsibility and/or performing at their best. It sends signals that all is well even though your child has gone through a separation with their parents. However, you need to be aware if your child stays in that role for a long time. In that case, you need to help with increased structure and relief, so that your child can relax and let you take over.


  • Think about what motivates your child to take responsibility and perform. Is it joy, community, and positive development? Or do you sense stress when your child doesn’t get to perform, plan, or take responsibility in other ways?
  • Spend time with the child and do things that are not about taking responsibility or performing. See what happens.
  • Talk to the child and hold back your own opinions, criticisms, and so on. Listen and take in what the child has to say!


  • Being extra diligent can be a way for a child to gain control and take responsibility, but it can become too much for a child to bear over time.
  • Think about what is driving your child’s behaviour.
  • Spend time with your child and take away some of their responsibilities. Perhaps you can help pack their bag for the next exchange or make a phone call on their behalf.
  • Talk to your child and listen to what they have to say.
Malin Bergström
Child psychologist