How to Help Your Kids through the Early Stages of Divorce

divorcekidsThese days, family wellness is often affected by divorce, which, in turn, impacts the wellbeing of many children. Joanne Pedro-Carroll, PhD, founder of Children of Divorce Intervention Program USA, notes that there are three main factors that impact child wellness during and after their parents’ divorce; hostile conflict, the quality of parenting over time, and the parent-child relationship.

Obviously, these three factors can strongly impact a child in a family with an intact marriage as well, but when you and your child’s other parent are no longer together, a healthy balance among these factors seems to be even more critical. The disruption of divorce can truly test each of your resilience and relationship skills, and elevate your child’s risk of having emotional, academic, and social problems. Research has shown that the children who really struggle in the initial stages of divorce are the most likely to have significant problems.

Simply growing up in a divorced family does not automatically mean that your child will develop significant lifelong emotional problems, but as the initial stage of divorce can be the most stressful, there are things you can do to reduce any emotional damage the process might cause, and help your child come to terms with the change. Firstly, give your child some notice before things start to change, as well as a chance to talk and ask questions as much as possible.

When it comes to conflict between you and your child’s other parent, try to shield your child from it as much as possible. Spend quality time with your child (or each of your children) individually in order to strengthen your parent-child relationship, and let your kid know that he or she is loved no matter what. An atmosphere of love and warmth, wherever possible, is crucial in the early stages of divorce.

Any parent should aim to be consistent with information, discipline, routines, and everything really, but this is critical for a family dealing with divorce. You and your Ex are still a parenting team, and undermining what the other person has said will cause instability in your child’s life. Finally, make sure you take advantage of support groups or after-school programmes for children of divorce when possible, as well as social support for you. You need to take good care of yourself as an individual so you can be the best parent you can be for your children.

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