Kids have a lot of issues to process and deal with when their parents divorce. Emotional issues may surface, they may act out or have problems in school, and they often feel lost because the separation has shaken their foundation and they do not know what to expect. As a parent, there is a lot you can do to help your child cope with your family’s changing dynamics. Below are some tips for how to help kids through divorce.
How can I help my kids through the divorce?
- Thoughtfully prepare for “the talk.” Know how you are going tell your kids about the divorce and prepare for their reactions. Many kids remember this conversation for the rest of their lives, so it is important to handle it consciously, frankly, and caringly.
- Stay clear of blame surrounding the divorce. There are certain things you should not tell your child about the divorce. Blame, shame, and guilt will only traumatize a child and hurt her relationship with you and her other parent. Temper your words to avoid pointing fingers or insinuating fault.
- Do not let your kids get caught in the crossfire. Arguing and bitter battles can be very damaging for a child. Contentious divorces can breed fear, resentment, and lasting hurt. Try to shield your children from the divorce and keep the ugliness under wraps.
- Help your child acclimate to the new living situation. Help your children adjust to the visitation schedule and their “new normal.” Letting your child know what the schedule is, sticking to a routine, and staying involved in their lives can help them adapt.
- Keep on top of discipline issues. With two households, personal emotional issues, and stress, parents sometimes overlook discipline issues during a divorce. Kids may even use the divorce as a means to impose guilt and get away with bad behaviors. Establish the rules of the house and continue promoting good behavior.
- Carefully consider any changes in your kids’ schooling. Before deciding whether or not to switch your children’s schools, ask them for their input. Sometimes, a fresh start is welcomed, whereas in other cases, consistency trumps a change. Be sure to speak with your child’s teachers before she returns to school so they are in the loop and can help.
- Take time to make their new bedroom special. Kids’ bedrooms are their sanctuary. Decorate it to their taste and add a few meaningful items that make it feel like home to them.
If you feel like your kids are not adjusting well to the divorce, by all means, seek out help from a divorce counselor that works with children. They can help both you and your kids cope with the emotional, psychological, and social issues that arise and become accustomed to the changes.