You’ve made a decision that divorce is the only option and amidst the fears you have for yourself, you’re worried about how your children will cope. In today’s article I’m sharing tips and ideas for how to help children to cope with divorce.
Divorce is a scary time for children at any age but certain ages will be more difficult to bear than others.
Suddenly the family unit is gone and it may feel like the security has gone and there is no hope left for the family.
Children may feel that it is their fault or that they wont be loved in the same way anymore, or will they get two new families and new siblings?
Divorce is stressful enough for parents, let alone children. They are dealing with their own anxieties but it’s important to ensure you have responsible and trustworthy divorce solicitors who can aid you in this difficult time.
Children need to feel that they’re not in the middle of the storm and this can be difficult when parents are arguing back and forth and may need to change home or the major changes that happen within the home may make them withdrawn a little from themselves.
Keeping them focused on their hobbies will help, reading, writing, playing, sports and friends can be very positive.
Each child will have a different reaction and a different ability to cope and this will depend on his or her age and the circumstances around the divorce.
Behavioural problems are common as well as regression and feeling upset about things, which may affect their education.
How parents treat each other as they divorce each other will assist with this and will provide a semblance of security for the child also will have an impact on their recovery.
How Can You Actually Help?
Let’s get to the nitty gritty of the subject and provide some tips and ideas for how to help children cope with divorce. If they are an only child, it can be particularly more difficult as they don’t have siblings to talk it out with and your role becomes more important.
- Tell your child early on what is happening. Ensure they are in the know and understand what divorce means and how it may affect them in the short term.
- Speak warmly and reassuringly and listen to their worries and concerns. Ask them how they are feeling and if they are doing OK often, tell them you are always there for them.
- Provide structure and routine. Send them to their classes every day and encourage time with friends, this is a vital element to help them.
- Talk to your child’s school so if there is a change in behaviour patterns they will know what is driving the behaviour and support your child through this difficult transition.
- Maintain positivity, and keep an upbeat routine, even at tea time and breakfast time, still give discipline and still feel as if life is going on. Because it is.
- Do not expect your child to take sides at all, this can be damaging to younger children and they can feel as if they have to choose. Help them remain neutral even though this can be difficult if you feel the parent has done wrong by your child.
- Avoid criticizing the parent or arguing in front of them. Children will pick up on what you’re saying and may not fully understand it all.
- Keep in mind that your child’s perception of the world is different from yours.
- Respect each other’s wishes, and come to an agreement with your ex partner to ensure the child’s best interests are kept at heart.
In my role at school we often support parents as well as their children through major life changes. Don’t feel like you’re on your own. Reach out and talk. You need to take care of your own emotional needs as well as your children.