11 Tips To Help Your Child Deal With Divorce

It wouldn’t be original for me to say that divorce is equally stressful for spouses getting divorced and their children. So, what exactly causes stress in children in the first place?

It’s the changes.

The composition of the family is shifting where parents are no longer living together, the general atmosphere in the family, and the possibility of a new place of residence, school, circle of friends, etc.

In this article, I will discuss 11 practical and workable ways to help your child deal with divorce.

How to Help Your Child Deal With Divorce

1. Remind Your Child That They Are Not At Fault

Most children may believe that they led their parents to break up and can unconsciously blame themselves for their parents’ divorce.[1] They may torment themselves with various suspicions and experiences.

For example, a child can run through possible scenarios, such as “Mom and Dad wouldn’t have fought if I’d been nice and not rude” or “It’s my fault that I’m not good enough since Dad decided to leave the family.”

At this stage, it is important to explain to your child that it’s not their fault that the divorce is taking place. Reassure your child and tell them that you and your spouse still love them, even though your marriage is ending.

2. Do Not Shift Your Grievances on Your Child

After a divorce, we are often vulnerable. Mentions of an ex-spouse and their actions can drive us into anger, disappointment, and other negative emotions. Therefore, you need to be especially careful with how you communicate with your child during these moments.

Control the speech and tone of the conversation. A child’s psyche is arranged differently than an adult’s. They project your emotions onto themselves.

Think about what and how you talk about the second parent. Moreover, try to explain how you feel and why you are angry, upset, or worried. Explaining your emotions to your child will help them feel reassured that you will continue to love them.

3. Tell Your Child They Have Not Lost the Other Parent

Another rule for helping your child deal with divorce is to emphasize that the child has not lost the second parent and that both parents will continue to love them despite the changes.

Children often perceive divorce as the loss of a parent who will no longer live with them. It is worth having conversations with your child that, although you will no longer be living together, each parent will still carve out quality time with them.

Providing constant reminders that both parents love the child help kids cope with separation and feel valued by both parents. This way, you do not form a negative image of the second parent in the eyes of the child.

4. Do Not Sort Things Out in Front of Your Child

For your child’s well-being and mental health, do not quarrel with the other parent before them, and do not turn the child into a manipulation tool. [2]

For example, don’t threaten your ex-partner that they won’t see your child if they don’t pay for certain things. Children whose parents are divorcing do not care who pays for what. They need full communication with both parents.

Never involve your children in your battles. The amount of parental conflict that a child witnesses during and immediately after divorce plays a decisive role in their adjustment.

5. Discuss Family Changes With Your Child

When helping your child cope with divorce, explain to them the things that will change within the family.

For example, you may have to move to another location, which may involve having another trusted adult pick them up after school and take them to extracurricular activities. Other changes include the child having to move back and forth from two different homes.

Explaining these changes in a language that is easily understandable to a child will reduce their level of stress.

Families going through a divorce should discuss all family changes with all parties involved so that they can better understand how to navigate the situation as a whole. The main thing is to always be open to discussion with your child and not hide anything from them.

6. Don’t Talk Badly About the Other Parent

Another way to help a child cope with separation is not blaming or criticizing your spouse in front of them. Criticism and accusations bring nothing but negativity. Of course, you can always discuss these issues at psychotherapy sessions or with friends, but you do not need to expose your children and their fragile psyche to this.

Never take out negative feelings on your children or force a child to take sides, as this can be a very traumatic experience for a kid. You should always try to maintain a civilized relationship with your ex-partner.

7. Allow the Child to Express Negative Emotions

Don’t deny your child’s emotions, even if they don’t please you. Instead, understand their emotions — this is the child’s reaction to what is happening to them. It helps them understand their communication skills, regulate behavior, and learn to understand others better.

For example, if the father does not communicate with your child after the divorce, try to share their sadness. Explain that it’s okay to be upset and miss someone important.

Your presence and the opportunity to share experiences with them are significant for your child. Do not deny their pain or desire to cry. They are going through a difficult period like you, and have the right to experience different emotions.

8. Be Truthful About Your Breakup As Simply As Possible

Based on their age, parents should clearly explain to their children what divorce is in simple terms. When having to deal with divorce and children, consider the child’s life maturity and temperament level when discussing the current situation. You can tell your child that your divorce is due to specific issues, but you don’t have to go into details.

You may have to explain everything several times; it is not easy for them to immediately understand and accept that their parents will not be together. Remember, when talking to a child about divorce, do not blame the other parent and do not say anything bad about them.

9. Do Everything to Make Your Child Feel Loved

You must first remember that your child always needs your love and support, regardless of whether they are going through a huge transition or not. And even more so in a stressful situation like divorce.

Your child should know and feel that you are always open to answering all their questions and providing a listening ear when they need to express certain feelings and emotions. This is a confusing time for your child, and keeping things as normal as possible is key.

10. Encourage Your Child to Talk About Divorce

There are many ways on how you can help your child deal with divorce and cope. Expressing their feelings is one of them as it helps relieve pain and stress.[3] So, encourage your kids to communicate and talk about it.

Divorce is tricky to navigate and may need several sit-down conversations. Help them find words for their feelings and acknowledge them. Finally, do not forget about therapy sessions if you feel that they are needed.

11. Support the Child’s Routine as Much as Possible

Changes and unfamiliar routines are the basis of stress that a child can experience during a divorce. Therefore, try to keep changes to a minimum and stick to their regular daily routine as much as possible.

Keep Thursday night pizza nights and weekend trips to the park, if that’s been your child’s routine. Keep prior obligations and promises as much as possible and your child will adapt to the changes gradually.

Final Thoughts

Yes, divorce can be exhausting, but it’s not the end of the world. Parents diverge, but they are connected by the most important person—their child.

As with any painful situation, the key is to adapt. If you’re wondering how to deal with separation when a child is involved, just remember that communication is the first step to moving forward. Each parent must do everything in their power to ensure that the child feels needed and loved during all the changes that surround them.

Featured photo credit: Colin Maynard via unsplash.com


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