Divorce can end some unhealthy situations, and can sometimes be the best solution for a struggling family. But if you’re a parent going through a breakup or divorce, you’re thinking about more than just yourself. If you’re worried about how your relationship breakup or divorce might affect your child, you’re not alone. In this article, we look at how to help children deal with divorce in the most sensitive way possible.
How to help children deal with divorce
While it is undeniable that divorces can be very challenging for kids of all ages, the good news is that there are many things that parents can do to make sure their children feel heard and supported during the process.
During a breakup, children’s responses can involve several defence behaviours, including: disbelief, denial, dissociation, irritability, and panic. After the divorce, children may also experience grief and display emotions that indicate sadness, anger, shame, guilt and even depression.
While these behaviours and emotions are normal to experience, you as the parent can follow some steps to best support your child through the period of adjustment.
- Reassure your child
Children often assume that they are somehow to blame for a breakup or divorce. As a result, their self-esteem can plummet. To avoid feelings of guilt and low self-esteem, you need to continually reassure your child that they are loved.
- Encourage your child to communicate
Expressing themselves gives children a sense of empowerment and can also help ease their frustration. Encourage your child to talk to you about how they feel about the situation. It’s also important for you to let your child know that it is normal to express their emotions.
- Keep relationships going
Children must never get caught up in the fight between two parents. Therefore, it’s important to work hard to ensure that your child have good relationships with both parents. It’s also essential to keep up familiar relationships with other close family such as grandparents and friends too.
- Offer stability
Children will adjust easier to loss when they can rely on stability. Creating a stable environement can involve being given open and honest information, being encouraged to ask questions, participating in discussions and getting comfort from a trusted adult.
- Keep routines going
Establish consistency that allows your child a sense of peace when other parts of their life are changing. You may feel the urge to be more relaxed about rules, but it’s important to not let your child become lax with responsibilities.
It may be useful to get the support from an expert in the field of helping children deal with divorce. Talk to your child’s school counselor to find out if there are any services available through the school. Alternatively, a child psychologist can help to support your child during and after a breakup or divorce.