Divorce can be a challenging time for children of all ages. This can be especially true for kids who may not fully understand the situation or have the emotional tools to cope with the changes it inspires.
It’s important for parents to actively work towards minimizing the stress and anxiety their children might experience during this transition, especially if a child seems to be having a tough time. The following tips provide good ways to get started. However, if they prove to be insufficient, there is no shame in seeking personalized support if you’re divorcing and your child is struggling.
Routine and stability are important
Children generally thrive on routine and predictability. Maintaining a consistent daily schedule for meals, school, activities and bedtime, when possible, can provide a sense of security. Try to keep disruptions to their routine to a minimum and ensure that both homes provide a stable and comforting environment.
Whenever possible and appropriate, encourage a healthy relationship with both parents. Regular and consistent contact with each parent can help children feel loved and secure. Most parents need to work towards a co-parenting arrangement that prioritizes the children’s needs and allows them to maintain a strong bond with both parents.
Communication and conflict concerns
Honesty is key in helping children navigate the complexities of divorce. Explain the situation in age-appropriate terms, reassuring them that both parents love them and that the divorce is not their fault. Encourage them to express their feelings and ask questions, and listen to their concerns with empathy and understanding.
You’ll also want to keep in mind that exposure to parental conflict can significantly increase children’s stress levels. Make a concerted effort to keep disagreements and legal discussions away from the children. It’s essential for their emotional well-being that they do not feel caught in the middle or feel the need to choose sides.
Finally, it is worth repeating that children, like adults, may benefit from additional support during this time. Simply because divorce is tough doesn’t mean that anyone affected by it needs to suffer unnecessarily.