The Kids Are Not Alright
Tips for Helping Your Child Deal with Divorce
Given the statistics — 50% of first marriages and an even higher percentage of second marriages end in divorce — chances are your child either already knows or will meet other children whose parents have split up. But that doesn’t make it any easier for your child to manage confusion, sorrow or fears divorce brings.
The change in your finances can negatively affect your child’s health. Making sure that your child gets medical care becomes more difficult due to both a lack of time and/or money. Add in that your own emotional stress, and it may be difficult to address the effects it may have on your child’s health at home, at school and at play.
Unexpressed anger or fear can show up in physical symptoms or volatile moods. Toddlers may throw temper tantrums; children of any age may fall into bad eating habits, becoming picky to the point of not getting the proper nutrition. Asthmatic children may have more episodes. Teenagers may become withdrawn, morose or hostile.
Any change in routine may upset toddlers, who can’t express their feelings. Assure your child you’ll help him feel better when he calms down. Encourage older children to verbalize their emotions. Let them know that some things remain constant. Enlist your ex-spouse’s help, if you can, in reassuring them of your ongoing love and protection.
Younger children may complain of stomachaches or become clingy and resistant to going to school. Older children may be unable to concentrate on their schoolwork or neglect to hand in assignments. Their grades may start to slide. Kids of all ages thrive on structure and routine and now they need it more than ever. Try to be patient and loving while setting limits and clarifying your expectations.
Toddlers may become aggressive with other children or more possessive of their toys. Youngsters may become more sedentary, preferring to watch TV, or, in the case of older children, play endless hours of video games rather than get exercise outside. And it’s easy for teenagers to immerse themselves in an online world, with little contact with friends.
You may want to spend time playing with your toddler, then ask her if she’s ready to share her toys before arranging play-dates. Enroll older kids in after-school activities such as gymnastics and encourage teenagers to spend “face time” with friends.
If separation or divorce is your only option, visit our divorce mediation program to learn more about your options and how to get valuable advice for you and your family.