When you’re going through a divorce, your kids feel strong emotions that are difficult for them to process, understand or express. They may act out or withdraw as they deal with their emotions. They may even try to get you back together. No matter what actions your children display, you can use several parenting strategies to help your kids cope with your divorce.
Explain the Changes
Because of the divorce, life as they know it is about to turn upside down. While you don’t want to keep the truth from them, don’t overwhelm your kids with all the messy details of your divorce. Use age-appropriate language to tell your kids that their parents will no longer be living together. If possible, have this talk before you separate.
Reaffirm Your Love
Your kids may fear that mommy and daddy no longer love them since they no longer love each other. Reaffirm your love in tangible way so your kids feel secure during the changes your family faces.
- Regularly spend time with each child doing an activity or hobby they enjoy.
- Try to keep traditions like bedtime stories, weekly dinner out or birthday parties.
- Act civil to your spouse and never bad mouth the other parent.
- Take care of yourself so that your able to be the best parent possible
- Keep adult issues at the adult level and never put your children in the middle
- Use mediation as a non confrontational approach to resolving the legal divorce quickly
In the midst of the divorce, your children may be unable to express their feelings verbally. They may act out, though, with anger, aggression or withdraw.
Help your kids process the divorce with assistance from a child psychologist. He can use art, play and other tools to help your kids express their emotions in a positive way. He can also help your entire family heal emotionally and provide you with parenting strategies.
A divorce isn’t easy on anyone. You and your kids will get through it, though, as you exercise effective parenting strategies that help your kids navigate the changes.
Dr. Lazarus is a licensed psychologist who specializes in helping children and parents work through divorce issues.