Divorce can be a difficult change for everyone in a family, especially the children. Many parents share concern over the effects divorce can have on their children. However, it is a change that most children will recover from in time.
When parents who can’t get along decide to end their marriage, children may be initially distressed about the change. As their family changes, they may begin having problems in school or exhibiting regressive behaviors. However, most children recover from the change in a year or two. Although most children will bounce back from the experience on their own, there are actions parents can take to help their kids cope better with divorce.
Keep parental conflict from your child
If you and your spouse are facing divorce, one of the most important ways you can help your child is by keeping parental conflict away from him or her. Exposure to parental conflict can make your child feel worried or afraid. It may hinder his or her ability to cope with your divorce and could even cause behavioral problems that may affect your child long term.
Some ways to keep parental conflict from your child includes:
- Not talking about legal matters where your child can overhear
- Not confiding in your child about your ex or the divorce
- Keeping drop-offs and pick-ups civil
- Trying to cooperate with the other parent on matters that affect your child
Encourage your child to talk about his or her feelings
Talking with your child about his or her feelings can also help your child cope in a healthy way. Young children may struggle to describe how they are feeling, so helping your child find the right words to express himself or herself can allow your child a more productive chance at talking through emotions. Age appropriate books can also help your child describe what he or she is feeling.
When your child does tell you how he or she is feeling, make sure your child knows that it is okay to feel what he or she feels and that you take those feelings seriously. If your child is struggling articulate or make sense of feelings, he or she may benefit from talking with a therapist.
Although divorce can be initially hard for children to cope with, most children recover well in time. Even though children may recover on their own, the actions parents take during the divorce process can help children better cope with the situation.