How to help your child through divorce

How to help your child through divorce

 Divorce is a baffling situation for everyone involved, especially children who don’t understand the complexity of adult relationships. It can be hard to know what to say to children or how to say it.

Because children have different ways of expressing their feelings when words don’t work, it is important for parents to adapt and be flexible with their own communication styles. Here are some ways to help your child through a divorce.

Answer their questions

The fear of the unknown is perhaps the biggest challenge that both parents and children will face during the divorce process. For parents, hiring a divorce attorney can help reduce stress and expenses associated with the divorce process (Source: https://clw.com.au/family-law/divorce-lawyers-sydney/). For children, it is up to the parents to answer the questions and reduce stress.

Some common questions kids will ask include:

  • where do we live
  • Will we still see both parents?
  • Will I still be allowed to do activities (sports after school, go to camp, etc)?
  • Do I still see my friends?

Answer the questions to the best of your ability. If you don’t have an answer, say “We’re still figuring out” instead of “I don’t know.”

Help them assign words to their feelings

Young children do not always know the words that correspond to their body’s reaction to feelings. For example, they may know that they are feeling hot and uncomfortable and want to scream, but they don’t know how to say they are angry or frustrated. They may feel sleepy and like to cry, but don’t know how to say they are sad.

Use the resources to help children assign names to how they feel. Simple illustrations of different facial expressions help children identify their own feelings as well as those of their peers.

As a parent, it is also important to acknowledge and accept their feelings and let them know that what they are experiencing is okay. Simple phrases like “I understand you’re angry” or “I’m sorry you’re feeling sad right now” can help children feel confident and normal.

Self-care issues

As you process your feelings and help your child deal with your feelings, it is also important that you take care of yourself. Making sure you’re eating well and getting enough rest is a typical form of behavior for your child, and showing that it’s important to take care of yourself even when things are bad. In addition, a parent who does not take care of himself will have a hard time taking care of his children.

Self-care can come in many forms. Getting out of the house and playing on the playground with your kids or planning a movie night with a friend who also has kids is a great way to relax while spending time with your kids.

Get outside help

There is still a stigma around seeking psychological help that prevents many parents from taking their children to a guidance counselor. However, these professionals see divorce cases every day and have educational knowledge on how to help children explain and process their emotions. If you find that your child is struggling, consider seeking professional help.

If you do not resume traditional counseling, find support groups that will benefit you and your child.

Keep civil

One of the best things that parents can do for their children during a divorce is to remain civil when dealing with each other or when talking about each other. As frustrating as the situation can be, saying degrading things about your child’s other parent won’t help you feel better and will do your child harm.

Save the negative interactions with your spouse when the kids aren’t present, and your best friend’s vent sessions after the kids go to bed.

How you deal with your divorce will be with your child forever. By staying civil with your ex, taking care of yourself, and offering constant support, you will help your child get through this situation in a healthy way.

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