Helping children to cope with divorce

The decision to divorce is never easy. One factor that causes couples significant stress is the impact divorce will have on their children. To support you in navigating this challenging issue, here is some advice for helping children to cope with family breakdown.

Offer unconditional reassurance

When you tell your children that you have decided to separate, offer them unconditional reassurance that you both still love them. Make it clear that the decision is not their fault and that as parents you will both continue to play a positive role in their lives.

Maintain as much stability as possible

Try to maintain the children’s normal routine, keeping any disruption to a minimum. Keep them updated on any arrangements that affect them and ensure they continue to see wider family members, particularly grandparents.

Talk and listen to their concerns

Let children talk about their feelings and empathise with them. Listen more than you talk and ask questions to help them open up. Giving them the space to express difficult feelings without judgement is an important part for the grieving process over the breakdown of their family.

Protect them

Do protect children from any conflict between you and your ex and any legal, financial and emotional concerns you may have over the separation. Never ask them to take sides, to be a messenger between you both or bad mouth each other in front of them

Make time

If you can, do make time for some enjoyable activities together which will help to distract them.

Seeking professional help

The impact of divorce can mean that children lose their home, their friends and school, as well as not seeing one parent as much as they might like. This can leave them feeling angry, distressed and anxious. However, most children do adjust over time. If you feel your child really is not coping with the situation, do seek professional help via a GP or school counsellor.

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