Divorce can be a difficult event for anyone to go through, but it is especially hard on children. They may not understand what is happening or why their parents are no longer together. In order to help your child cope with divorce, you need to show them that they have a lot of love and support in their life. You also need to give them the opportunity to express themselves about the divorce and talk openly about how they feel. The following strategies will help to improve communication and establish a sense of security for your child.
Offer Continual Love and Support
Children whose parents are getting a divorce may feel guilty or even angry about the situation and have trouble expressing themselves to others because they’re still trying to process their feelings. It’s important that you offer them love and support at every opportunity in order to help them work through these emotions.
Spending quality time together is a great way to show them that they are loved. Taking the time to do something special with your child will not only make them feel good, but it also helps to establish that your bond with your child has not changed even though you will no longer be married to your spouse.
It’s also important to give children the opportunity to express their thoughts, feelings, and opinions about the divorce in particular. They may not be aware of all of their emotions initially so it is up to you to ask them open-ended questions that will help them explore what they’re feeling. Make sure your child knows they have a voice in the process.
Give your child the time and space to process their emotions because they’re still trying to learn what divorce means. For example, a five-year-old may not fully understand why one parent is no longer living at home. It is important to help them navigate their feelings surrounding this change while reassuring them that the other parent will still be present in their life.
You may have your own opinions about what is best for your children to believe during this time, but it’s important to avoid pushing these onto them. Encourage them to talk about how they’re feeling and make sure that you listen without interrupting or judging. Be patient with your child if he or she can’t articulate their feelings well as not everyone feels comfortable talking openly and children are no exception. If a child is struggling too much to speak, try drawing pictures together as an easier outlet.
Allow Them to Participate in New Traditions
Children may also feel that they have lost their sense of belonging during the divorce, and it’s important to help them develop new traditions. One way is by encouraging them to talk about what they want for Christmas or other holidays. This helps them become more invested in family tradition so that it doesn’t seem like something there once was but is no longer there.
It’s also important to recognize that children may not want the same things they would have wanted before the divorce. They may want something different for Christmas, or even no presents at all this year. This is completely normal and should be respected as ultimately it is your child’s decision about how he or she wants to honor family traditions during a time of great change.
It’s also important to keep in mind that your child may want to take on more responsibility during the holidays by helping make decisions about what they would like for Christmas instead of waiting for someone else to decide. It can be empowering and help give them a sense of control over their life if they are allowed to have input, so don’t hesitate when it comes time to ask them how they want to spend the holidays.
Empower Them to Make Important Decisions
It’s important to give children the opportunity to have input on decisions that will impact their lives, such as choosing a new school. If you’re not sure how they might feel about a certain decision, be open to talking it out and allowing your child the space to process the decision. Children often feel that life is spiraling out of their control during a divorce, so allowing them to make age-appropriate decisions for their life can be empowering.
Let Them Know You Are There No Matter What
It’s also important to let your child know that you are there for them no matter what happens in life. The most important thing during these difficult times is being there as much as possible and providing support when needed. For example, if your child is struggling with adjusting to a new school schedule or home life after the divorce has taken place, make sure they know that you are there for them.
The best way to do this is by setting up a regular time each day where you spend quality time with your child. This could be something as simple as going on a walk, watching TV together, or just talking about their day and how they are feeling. No matter what the activity may be, the important thing is being available and present in your child’s life and making sure that your former spouse can do the same.
Keep Your Promises
A child with divorced parents may feel as if they are not able to trust either one. Even older children can sometimes struggle to reconcile the divorce with their expectations that their parents would remain together forever, and it is easy for that hurt to be projected onto other matters. To help your children avoid this, make sure all of your promises are kept to help rebuild the trust that may have been lost during the divorce. This can apply to small matters, such as going to the park when you promised the week before or letting them pick what to have for dinner. These small moments add up, and they can help to re-establish a sense of normalcy in your child’s life.
Divorce is a difficult process for children to understand, but with these strategies, you can give your child the best chance at successful healing. Over time, it will become easier for your child to process these new changes, and learn to adapt to the new normal.