How To Help Your Child Adjust to Divorce
It isn’t a shock to know that a divorce is going to be difficult. It becomes even more so when there are children involved. In fact, many parents wonder if they should stay together for the children before a divorce happens. While this may work for some, this isn’t always going to be the case.
There are ways that you can help reduce the psychological toll that divorce can have on children. If you start these things early, then most likely the children will learn that it is okay. Since the first year is often the hardest on children, it is important to make sure that you listen to their needs and worries.
Tips On How Helping Children Adjust
- Co-Parent Peacefully
Intense conflict between parents is one of the biggest ways to increase a child’s distress. When there is overt hostility, like screaming and threatening, it has been shown to increase behavior problems in children. However, even minor tension may also increase a child’s distress over the situation. Remember, children are feeling these big emotions, and they don’t know how to regulate them yet in most cases. By co-parenting peacefully you are setting an example for them but also lowering their distress.
- Don’t Put Kids in the Middle
Putting your kids in the middle is a recipe for a messy divorce. Not only that, but children that are caught in the middle are more likely to show signs of depression and anxiety. Never as your kids who they think is the better parent and don’t give them messages to give to the other parent. Putting your kids in the middle is only going to cause unneeded stress.
- Maintain Healthy Relationships
Keeping up with positive communication, parental warmth, and low levels of conflict may help the adjustment period. Show that even though you aren’t married that you can still be civil towards the other person. If you can’t, then it may be best to try and get some support for that.
- Use Consistent Discipline
You and your spouse need to establish age-appropriate rules and follow through with consequences. They should also be consistent between both parents. Having a set of rules that don’t change is going to help the adjustment period.
- Help Kids Feel Safe
Divorce is hard, and it is easy for younger children to feel like they aren’t safe. The fear of abandonment can cause anxiety in just about anyone. Children are no different and need to know that both parents are a safe loving space. Helping your child know that can reduce clinginess but also diminish the risk of mental health problems caused by a divorce.