A couple going through a divorce with children can find their children don’t always handle it well. While you are handling your own emotions and getting everything resolved, your children are suffering and you have to try to understand and help them. It’s hard for parents to understand their children’s view, but there are ways you can help them cope during this difficult time.
The first change that may impact kids is a change in schedule. Routine is healthy for kids so when a divorce occurs, there may be a change in meal times, bedtimes and childcare. Work with the other parent to keep a consistent schedule in both homes to offer your child a sense of security.
Kids want to blame themselves for the divorce. They think their misbehavior pushed away one parent and caused fighting. Explain to your child that adults have problems and it has nothing to do with anything their kids did or didn’t do.
You’ll also want to keep them out of future disputes and drama. They will feel fearful if they see you arguing in front of them or if you badmouth their other parent to them. They still love both of you and don’t want to choose sides.
When children feel fear, they may have nightmares or begin suffering from depression. If you notice your child is becoming clingy, you need to discuss with them that you understand their fear and both parents love them. They need to feel secure again.
Some kids don’t show their difficulties on the outside. When grades drop, they are playing less with friends, or show less interest in activities; these may be hidden signs of difficulties. Watch for changes in sleep or appetite, as well.
Divorce may cause a change in schools, friends and homes. You may need to seek professional counseling if your child appears unable to cope with all of the changes.
Finally, try to keep their bedroom the same in a new home. If there is a family pet, keep it with the child. Anything that can remain consistent within their life will help the child cope with the divorce.