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Tips for Helping Kids Adjust to a Divorce


Divorce isn’t easy for anyone, and children particularly take it very hard. Many children don’t understand what is happening around them and some feel the divorce is somehow their fault.

How do you know that your child is struggling with divorce? Despite parents’ best efforts to make the divorce process smooth and painless, children still struggle to cope with divorce. It is common for children to respond to a stressful situation with emotional and behavioral problems, but when these problems become intense and persistent, they begin to interfere significantly with the child’s functioning. When this happens it’s important for parents to consider divorce therapy for kids.

Here are some common behaviors or symptoms that can occur to kids:

  • Losing interest in activities
  • Increased crying spells
  • Worrying and feeling scared
  • Academic or behavioral problems
  • Less socializing with friends
  • Lack of interest in communication

When it comes to children and divorce, their sense of security and safety may be threatened but they still tend to be resilient. With a thoughtful approach by both parents, steps can be taken to minimize the negative effects of divorce.

Here’s are few tips that can help your child cope:

1.Communicate the news together
It’s ideal that both parents can have the initial conversation calmly together, as this will help you to show your love and support for them. Communicate what’s happening as soon as possible to help kids prepare for future changes, and don’t wait until the last minute. The discussion should always be appropriate for the child’s age, maturity and temperament. Always make sure the child understands that what happened is between mom and dad and is not the child’s fault.

2.Legitimize their feelings
Reassure your children. Let them know they will always have both mom and dad and explain how things will work.  Saying “I know you’re sad right now,” or “I know it’s lonely without dad here,” reassures children that their emotions are valid. Encourage your children to communicate with you on a regular basis. Show them that you understand any feelings they might have. Sometimes children keep their feelings inside because they do not want to upset you. Speak with your kids frequently by asking how they feel. Let kids know it’s always good to feel happy, relieved, or excited about the future.

3.Help Them Feel Secure
Your kids spent their whole life in one home and suddenly things change. They now need to live in two separate homes. This is where parents must ensure that both of their children’s homes are safe and welcoming. To them, the new house or apartment is an unfamiliar place they don’t feel comfortable in. In order to help them through this new lifestyle and realize that a new home is still their home, include them in selecting furniture or let them design their own room. If your child is still a kid, having a teddy bear or a blanket that they can take with them to both homes can help them feel more comfortable and secure.

4.Encourage Healthy Relationships
Remember, both parents play important and equal roles in your kids’ identity. Respecting them is a way of respecting your children. Avoid negative talk about the other parent or blaming the individual, even if you are angry. Children love and require both of their parents. A child should never be forced to choose between their parents. Make it clear to him or her that you want them to have a healthy and caring relationship with both parents so that they don’t feel torn. They shouldn’t feel that they have to hide funny stories or happy thoughts about their other parent from you.

5.Indulging kids in creative activities
Depending on their age, your children will spend the majority of their days at school. This means that besides parents, teachers and caregivers also play a vital role in helping children cope better with their parents’ divorce. They can even help ease the adjustment period.

Extracurricular activities can be an effective way of coping with negative emotions. Playing sports, learning how to play an instrument, or attending language classes at a local learning center are all activities you can enroll your kids in to occupy their minds. This will assist them in shifting their attention to something more constructive and beneficial, as well as making it easier for them to resolve negative emotions

The more you take care of yourself and take responsibility for learning mature skills for navigating life, the more energy and focus you can provide to your kids. If you don’t know where to begin, tell your children that you will always love them and will always be their parents. If they understand these facts, you’re probably already on the right track to raising safe and happy children.

Above all, don’t be afraid to ask for help if you need it.

It can be very helpful if you work with a counseling expert or a family therapist who has experience with divorce and can give you advice on how to handle difficult situations.

Children also feel relaxed when they talk to a family therapist. They often are able to express feelings which they think will hurt their parents to family counselors.

Although a divorce affects the whole family, remember that children are more resilient than you think. This will be a difficult time for them, but with the right strategies in place to help kids adjust to divorce, you can help them bounce back from challenges life throws their way.

We at Alethia Center are here to support you at your difficult times. Our Family Therapists and counseling for kids help your family get through this difficult time! If you think you might benefit from talking with our experienced therapists, don’t hesitate to make an appointment today. Remember, you can best support your kid if you are feeling supported, too!

Contact us today for a consultation.