Almost all children will struggle to cope with their parents’ divorce. Some may express these struggles in a very visible way, others will suffer silently from within.
Many of the things that decide how well children will cope with divorce revolve around how well you and your partner handle this situation. If you avoid fighting, children will cope better. If you maintain a stable environment and live close to each other, your kids will cope better. If you both stay actively involved, your kids will cope better. These things either have been (or will be) discussed in the other chapters.
But there are also ways to more directly help kids cope with the divorce, which this chapter will focus on. These coping strategies revolve around several key areas of offering support:
- Doing things that make the divorce transition easier.
- Promoting outlets for children to express their grief, anger or sadness.
- Combating the negative messages that divorce often sends and comforting kids with the right reassurances.
Resources for kids coping with divorce
After reading through this chapter, parents should look into utilizing the various free and low-cost resources we have on our site that are designed to help children cope with divorce. These include…
This page contains a variety of activities, everything from extended projects to printable workbooks and coloring sheets, all of which are designed to help children cope with divorce.
What To Do About Divorce – A children’s book
This is a wonderful storybook we recommend all parents consider ($2.99 in e-book format; suggested for kids ages 3 to 9). It involves a humorous plot which explores a child’s fantasies about what he or she might do to keep their parents together, all while weaving in important concepts that will help kids cope and adopt the right attitude towards their parent’s divorce.
Divorce coloring books and pages
These free printable resources will help kids cope with various aspects of divorce.
How to help children cope with divorce: Some basic information
- Create a message exchange system for communication about difficult issues. Set up a “message box” somewhere in the house, preferably around a common area where you normally post notes to each other or leave your keys. Tell kids that if they have questions that they have difficulty asking you directly, they can write it down, stick it in the box, and then you’ll write down and leave them an answer.
Children often have issues arise that are troubling to them, but they may not remember (or may not be in the mood to talk) when it comes time to ask them. This is especially true of the many little details of divorce that can cause a child anxiety. Having a way to indirectly communicate with each other makes it easier for kids to come to you for support.
- Provide children with plenty of free play time away from adults, and parents should try to schedule and accommodate activities or play dates with other kids. Time with friends can reduce stress and help children cope with the situation, especially if those friends have been through what they’re going through now.
- Be sure to reward children for their efforts in adapting. Children are called upon to make a number of sacrifices in their lives to adjust to your divorce. It will help them feel better to have their efforts acknowledged, and this will also bring you more cooperation throughout this process.
- If you’re a teacher or other secondary caretaker, the #1 way you can help children cope with divorce is through your time and loving affection. Kids are enduring a monumental shakeup to their foundation of caretakers, and most could use all the extra attention they can get.