Helping Your Child Through a Divorce

When parents make the decision to divorce, it can be very difficult on the children. The reaction of children to separation and divorce varies and usually depends on the age of the children involved. The transition can be easier when the parents know how to approach the subject with the children and how to follow through after the divorce.

Breaking the News

In the majority of cases children will feel a combination of anger, fear, and even guilt when their parents separate. Parents need to follow the right steps during their interaction with their children during this very difficult time in order to reduce the amount of disruption and impact the divorce causes.

The first thing parents need to do in order to help their children cope with an impending divorce is to be honest with them about your intention to divorce. The way parents approach this depends on the age of the children and how well they are able to understand what divorce will mean. The important thing is to tell them as soon as possible after you and your spouse agree to separate.

Ensure Structure and Stability

Unfortunately, divorce removes two of the most important things in a child’s life: stability and structure. Lacking these two important elements may leave children believing their lives are unstable, so to avoid this it’s important to do the following:

  • Create a schedule for visitation and stick to it
  • Have a regular daily routine
  • Avoid making changes in the way you treat the children
  • Consider co-parenting to maintain stability

Maintain a Civil Relationship with Your Ex

Avoid conflicts and outbursts with your ex. The children are already in a fragile state because of the divorce; you don’t want to add to the stress by fighting. The fights and arguments can scare the children and make them feel they need to choose a side or worry they will permanently lose one of their parents. This can then cause the children to develop emotional and behavioral problems.

Seek Professional Services if Necessary

Sometimes parents are unable to successfully help their children cope with divorce. These children quite possibly may begin to act out negatively even after several months have gone by. Some of the negative behavior you might notice includes:

  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Insomnia
  • Anger
  • Declining grades in school
  • Getting into fights
  • Self-injury
  • Withdrawal

When these symptoms fail to subside or increase in severity the parents need to seek professional help for the children.