Despite best intentions sometimes marriages and partnerships just come to an end and it can’t be helped. While it can be stressful for the whole family, it can be particularly bad for children that are involved – their lives being turned upside down and having to entertain the concept of visitation days and potential new partners in their parents lives. It can be traumatising and difficult for a child to comprehend, but here are some great tips for helping children work through a divorce.
Breaking The News
Breaking the news of a divorce to a child can be difficult and may result in tears or potentially hurtful questions and demands depending on the age of your child. It’s important to break the news together as a family and to answer any questions as best you can. It’s important to also maintain that your child had nothing to do with the decision to divorce and that they didn’t cause it.
Expecting The Reaction And Knowing What To Look For
Knowing what to look for in your child in terms of their usual moods, activities and more can help gauge what you can do to help. If they become very withdrawn and unsociable you may find that they benefit from counselling. Children of different ages may behave differently as well, so be sure to watch for age appropriate signs of upset such as outbursts, testing boundaries or engaging in risky behaviour.
People To Tell
It’s important – even though it’s a personal issue – to tell your child’s teacher, principal and other school staff they frequently interact with so they can keep and eye on the child’s behaviour and report back to you so you can take appropriate actions either through talking to your child or getting them professional help to work through their emotions.
Put Your Child First
Ensure you keep putting your child first throughout the divorce – perhaps by engaging with them through going to a favourite holiday destination or theme park, and spending real quality time with them from both sides of the family. It will help them to come to terms with what is going on to know that they are still the centre of your world and that that fact won’t change, so be sure to plan activities your child enjoys doing specifically with you.
Keep Boundaries and Rules In Place
It can be hard when they’re hurting to keep rules and discipline up, but children like structure, routine and boundaries so keeping a general sense of the same rules as before the divorce in both new households will help your child maintain at least some sense of calm and consistency and it may even help them work through their emotional problems surrounding the divorce easier.
Don’t Use Your Child
Whatever you do, it’s hugely important not to use your child to get back at or hurt the other parent. Don’t speak ill of your ex spouse in front of the child or ask your child to be your informant. Doing these things can undermine your respect your child has in you and can lead to issues down the line, not to mention the ethical issue of using your child to try and get back at your ex.
So there you have a couple of great ways you can help your kids through a divorce. It’s a hard time for everyone, but particularly difficult for children, so the more you can help the better. Good luck!