How to Help Your Child Deal With Divorce(2/4)

By Rumi Samuel Published on October 09, 2022
How to Help Your Child Deal With Divorce(2/4)

When parents get divorced, one of their biggest jobs is ensuring the kids are okay. Kids react to divorce in different ways. They might feel like they’ve done something to cause the divorce. They might feel anxious. They might withdraw or act out. These are all normal reactions.

The best thing parents can do is let their kids know that their emotions are okay. Trying to cheer them up puts pressure on them to feel like they don’t. Instead, try to listen to how they’re feeling, even if it’s upsetting to you. Then instead of trying to “fix” their problem, you might say, “I understand why you feel that way. Can you tell me more?” This makes a child feel like they can talk to you without worrying about making you feel bad.

A structured routine helps kids with anxiety. It also helps prevent behavioural problems and helps kids stay focused at school. Letting teachers know what’s going on is a good idea. Some kids may need extra attention from you. If a kid seems to be avoiding friends or school, try to spend spare time with them. If this doesn’t help, it’s a sign your child might be depressed. They might need professional help.

Some general rules for parents to follow to help kids through a divorce: Try to be as calm as possible. This will make kids feel secure. Let kids know the divorce is not their fault. Do the best you can not say anything wrong about your spouse in front of the kids. Kids need to know that you and your spouse are on the same page about parenting. And, of course, you can’t be your best for your kids unless you’re also taking care of yourself.

Encourage your child to communicate

You can persuade kids ten and older to talk to the other parent about his lack of follow-through. "Expressing themselves gives kids a sense of empowerment and can help ease their frustration," Neuman says. "Even if nothing changes, your child will feel better knowing he made an effort to remedy the situation." Talk to your child about voicing disappointment without lashing out in anger. He might say: "I miss you," "It hurts my feelings when you cancel," or "I'm embarrassed when everyone's mom and dad are at the game but mine." If he's uncomfortable talking about the issue, suggest he send a letter or an e-mail.

Be willing to alter the visitation schedule

"Of course, consistency is important, but some flexibility on your part can increase an ex's ability to come through," says David Knox, PhD, author of The Divorced Dad's Survival Book: How to Stay Connected With Your Kids. If certain days or times are continually missed, for example, you might say, "If Tuesday dinners aren't good, what would be better?"

Get others involved

Attempt to include other reliable, caring adults in your child's life. Not only are devoted family members and friends role models your child can depend on, but their commitment takes the pressure off you.

Rumi Samuel

Rumi Samuel

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