Children are one of your concerns. When divorce and children are connected, there may be trouble. Do not even question how stressful divorce can be for the mental and emotional health of children, not to mention how confusing and dejecting is the fact that mom and dad are no longer living together. No matter what the age, children may feel angry or uncertain when they hear that their parents are splitting up. But it all comes down to you, how you crash the news to your children, either you can make them feel miserable or you can minimize the painful effect that will be casted over them. Helping your children cope up with the divorce actually requires attending to their needs and being there for them in a positive manner. Certainly it is not going to be a seamless process but the following tips might assist your children to cope up with the divorce.
Divorce and Children—How to Help Your Child Cope with Divorce
Here are a few important questions and some tips on how to address the issue:
1. How to Tell Your Kids About the Divorce
Break the news together. It is best for the children if both of their parents break the news to them, together. Try being truthful and clear; however exclude all the awful details about the causes and factors that led to divorce. You may shape your words like, ‘your dad and I can’t seem to put things together and we are having difficulty getting along with each other and we have decided to part our ways as it’s the best thing for us and for you guys right now.’
Love them and find support. Assure your children consistently that your divorce has nothing to do with them and that it’s not their fault. Reassure them repeatedly that your love for them has maximized than ever. You may also notify about your divorce to the children’s school counsellor, teacher, or doctor, so they could keep you updated regarding your children’s behaviour.
2. Anticipate How Your Kid Will Respond
The reaction you may get from your child depends upon their personality and age. The reaction will be a mixture of anxiety, clutter and shock. Even if the children have been hinted regarding the bumps in the relationship, they might still get severely shocked to acknowledging that things finally came to an end.
Children of different age group may exhibit reactions differently and understanding those reactions is one major step in helping your child cope with divorce.
0-4 years of age: children under this age group are very much dependent on the parents. Small children and babies do not have similar understanding like a 2 year old, but they may still sense the emotional state generated within the home. Children under this age group don’t actually speak their thoughts so they portray their emotions through their behaviour. Like for instance they show their confusion and discomfort by regressing to earlier stage of development; such as asking for bottle, bed wetting, being difficult and clingy at night while settling.
5-8 years of age: children under this age group have a better grasp over reality as compared to the pre-schoolers. However they may still exhibit fear for losing a parent who is non-resident. They struggle with the divided loyalties and their world may split into all-good or all-bad.
9-12 years of age: teenagers are most likely to side with either mom or dad. They may appear very baffled at the injustice displayed in front of them of the situation and may look out for someone to blame for it.
3. Help Your Children Express Their Feelings
You must assist your children in expressing their feelings into words. Their behaviour may often portray the emotions they feel inside such as anger or wretchedness. In turn you must be expressive and be a good listener even if it is difficult to hear what they have to say about things, you may go all ‘’you appear to be sad at the moment. Can you exactly share what is making you feel so down?’’
4. Validate Their Feelings
You may do this by saying things like ‘’I know how down you feel right now’’ and ‘’I can imagine how lonely you may feel without dad at the moment’’ you must let your children know that their feelings are valid. Encourage your children to share their feelings with you before you take measures to make them feel better. It is also your duty to let them know that it’s even alright to feel excited, relieved or happy for the future.
5. Be Supportive Towards Your Children
You must offer support to your children. You may ask things like, “tell me what will make you feel better?’’ even if they won’t exactly name the list of things that may help, you must still suggest some ideas such as walking or sitting together for a while, holding the stuffed animal most favourite to them. Kids who are younger may feel better after talking to daddy on call, or making a picture for giving mommy when they see her at the day’s end.
6. Have a Peaceful Relationship with Your Ex
Don’t fight in front of your kids. Acrimonious conversations related to finance and unreliability should be made discretely over phone especially when your children aren’t there to hear. According to research findings, children who adjust more poorly after a divorce are those who get exposed to continuous parental fights. You don’t necessarily have to be your ex’s best-friend but try to keep things in control. There are some couple, who do not get along at all because of trust issues and compatibilities, but it’s totally in your hands, how you present these complications to your children. For their sake, do not make a scene by fighting in front of their eyes.
Don’t degrade your ex. So who doesn’t have disputes and issues? Don’t let your children see the frustration and conflicts between you and your ex. And do not bad mouth your ex in front of your baby.
7. Keep Life Stable
If it’s in your power, try excluding changes that are major in the life of your kid such as moving to a new place. Also let the things be just as they are according to normal family routine.
To minimize the upset, try continuing the daily routine and activities such as going to clubs and school, seeing family and friends from both the sides. It is very hard to pretend everything is normal with one parent left, but you can try your best to stick with the routine and make life stable. This will let your child feel loved and wanted.
8. Ensure Good Parenting
Do not withhold the visits of children to see the other parent just to punish your ex.Children must be allowed to contact both the parents regularly. The anguish your child goes through due to absence of the other parent isn’t worth holding a grudge or revenge. Parental alienation is a type of child abuse which will bring lifetime consequences for your children.
Continue being the parent you have always been to your children. Bestowing them with special gift or permits to stay up late won’t wash away your guilt. Children will feel rather secure if you stay consistent and firm.
9. Know When to Get Help
If your child faces trouble coping up with your divorce, don’t hesitate in getting help. A younger kid may exhibit regressive behaviour such as bedwetting or clinginess whereas the older kid may become withdrawn, aggressive, depressed, and angry and face problems in school. A therapist is just what you need at this stage.
If you and your ex can’t develop can’t communicate without being hostile, seek help.Professional mediator or family therapist will help straighten up the things and reshape them in a manner where everyone can live with peace and friendship.
Divorce makes it difficult to handle things. Divorce and children should be a top concern if the partners have children. Kids are most sensitive to these issues and you can’t just expect them to pretend it is okay. Aside from fretting about future it must be your first priority to make sure you are helping your kids cope with the divorce.
Source: New Kids-Center