Going through a divorce is a particularly difficult time, especially if you have children. While you’ll be dealing with your own emotions, you’ll also need to ensure that you provide support for your kids. To help you navigate this process, these simple tips will come in handy.
1 . Shield your children from conflict
When you and your partner are going through a divorce you must shield your children from any conflict. Ensure that your children do not see or hear you arguing. If you are discussing divorce legal issues make sure that you do this in a private place.
Exposing your children to arguments and conflict may have adverse effects on their mental health.
2. Stick to the routine
While you’re going through divorced proceedings, ensure that your children can stick to their normal routine. Any big disruptions to the routine might leave them feeling stressed out, or worried about the future. Whether it’s after-school clubs or play dates with friends, try to keep things as normal as possible. A structured routine is the best way to keep your children feeling calm and settled.
3. Both parents should support the kids
Both parents must support their children during this difficult time. Where possible, you’ll want to ensure that each parent spends equal time with the children. Of course, depending on the situation, this may not always be appropriate. The routine may depend on custody arrangements, and whether one parent is moving home. Here are a few ideas that might come in handy:
- Arrange special days out for the kids, with each parent separately. Fun activities can be a great distraction during particularly difficult times.
- When you break the news to your kids, it’s best to have both parents together. After this point both parents can talk to the kids separately about their feelings. (Your child may find it easier to express their emotions to one parent over the other).
4. Break the news carefully
The conversation should be calm, without any blame, or anger. You and your ex-partner might like to do a practice run or write down what you’re going to say. Doing so can help you to keep your emotions under control, and ensure that the conversation runs smoothly. You’ll need to make sure that the child understands that none of this is their fault. Some children will worry that they’ve done something wrong, and blame themselves.
5. Monitor your child’s ongoing reaction
Let your children know that it’s okay to be upset and angry, monitor their reaction so that you can provide ongoing support. Be mindful that your child may pretend that they are okay, and let their stress out in different ways. For example, they might start to have trouble at school, or within their friendships. Keep an eye out for these things, as well as any changes to their sleep or behavior.
6. Provide support
There are many different ways to support your child’s mental health, here are a few starting points to help you:
- Help them express their feelings: Help your child to talk about their feelings, (you might use books or teddies to prompt them if they are feeling shy).
- Validate their feelings: Explain to your children that you understand how they feel, that what they are feeling is perfectly valid.
- Ask them what they need: Ask your child what they need to make them feel better, they might have trouble expressing this, but you can suggest things to help.
7. Prioritize their health
To support your child’s mental health, it’s all about getting the basics right. Ensure that they get enough sleep and eat lots of healthy food. If they are doing their homework, give them support, and encourage them to take breaks. Help them to connect with the natural world, whether it’s hikes in the woods or trips to the beach.
8. Support for yourself
If you want to support your children you’ll need to look after your own physical and mental health too, here are a few tips that can help you to do that:
- Practice activities to de-stress, whether it’s yoga, meditation, or writing in a journal.
- Get support from your friends and family, lean on them when you need it.
- Set yourself self-care goals, and maintain a healthy work-life balance.
- Work with a therapist if you need to, this can be helpful to talk out difficult feelings.
- If you run a company with your partner you might need legal advice about how a business is divided in a divorce.
9. Gradual changes
After your divorce, your children will need to get used to a new living situation. It might be that one parent has sole custody or a joint custody situation. Either way, you’ll need to explain the new situation to your children and make gradual changes to help them adjust.
You’ll need to think about which kind of living situation is right for your children, some kids will prefer sharing their time between two houses. Other children might like one ‘main home’, to help them to feel stable.
10. Resources to help
To support your children’s mental health during this time, here are some excellent resources:
This app is a self-care app for children. If your child is feeling stressed the ‘Breathe Think Do’ app can help kids to learn how to calm down and relax. There are five interactive activities to de-stress, a parent’s section, personalized messages, and more.
This app has lots of different meditations for children, there are meditations themed on positive affirmations, mindfulness, and special meditations for sleep.
This application includes meditations and resilience-building exercises. With the help of the app, kids can learn how to relax, sit, and let go of negative thoughts. Positive Penguins offer many strategies to help kids handle their emotions.
The more support that you provide your kids the easier they will adjust to the change. Give your child time to heal and monitor their progress. The right support tools can be incredibly useful during this difficult time. Remember to lean on your family and friends, getting help with a divorce is a great way to look after your health.