Parents holding hands of smiling child

5 tips to support your children through divorce

Divorce is a challenging and emotional process for everyone involved, but children are often extremely vulnerable. They may struggle with feelings of confusion, sadness and anxiety as their family dynamic changes.

If you’re navigating a split, here are several ways to support your children during this difficult time.

  1. Communicate openly

One of the most important steps in supporting your children through a divorce is to maintain open and honest communication.

Make sure your discussions are age-appropriate by tailoring conversations to suit your children’s age and level of understanding.

Provide reassurance and emphasise that the divorce is not their fault and that both parents will continue to love and care for them.

As you’re speaking to them about your split, encourage them to ask questions and express their feelings. Make sure you give them time and space to process and really listen to what they have to say.

  1. Maintain routines

Stability and routine are vital in providing a sense of security for children during a divorce. Try to keep their schedule and daily routines as consistent as possible, such as mealtimes, bedtimes and extracurricular activities.

You may benefit from working with your ex-spouse to create a co-parenting plan. This should prioritise the children’s needs and minimise disruption while ensuring both parents are involved in their lives.

If you’re living separately, ensure that both homes are welcoming and comfortable for the kids. Having their own personal space and familiar items with them can help them feel at ease.

  1. Monitor emotional well-being

Pay close attention to your kids and look for any changes in their behaviour, such as mood swings or regression to earlier developmental stages. These can be signs of stress or anxiety.

Consider seeking help from a child counsellor if needed. Professional guidance can give your children coping strategies and emotional support.

You can also get your children to express their feelings through talking, drawing or other creative outlets.

  1. Avoid conflict and negative talk

Ideally, children shouldn’t be exposed to parental conflicts during divorce. It’s wise to have conflict-free zones where you avoid arguing or discussing tricky issues in front of the kids.

Try to speak respectfully about your ex-spouse to your children, as negative comments can cause confusion and emotional turmoil.

Where possible, present a united front when making decisions for your kids. Maintain consistency in rules and expectations regardless of which parent they’re with.

  1. Foster healthy relationships

Ultimately, your kids want to spend time with you and feel safe and loved. Spend quality time with each of your children by doing activities they enjoy and that make them feel valued.

You can also give them extra support by spending time with extended family members from both sides. For instance, you could meet up with grandparents, aunts, uncles or cousins on a regular basis.

As well as this, encourage them to maintain friendships and do plenty of social activities. Being around friends of a similar age will ensure they continue to have fun and enjoy themselves during this tricky time.

Supporting your children through a divorce requires patience, empathy and a proactive approach. Remember that you’re not alone and there are people to help you through this difficult period.

You could get advice from a specialist divorce solicitor, reach out to loved ones or check out Citizen’s Advice. Organisations such as Relate can also offer guidance and counselling for your family or kids, as well as a range of self-help resources.

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