Going through a divorce is an emotional and stressful time for the entire family.
It’s not uncommon for the children to feel sad, angry, confused, or even like it’s their fault.
Keep in mind that you as a parent may not be able to completely prevent your child from experiencing pain. But there are a handful of things you can do to make the experience easier for them. Keep on reading to learn more.
Sit down with your children and make sure they understand that you love them just as much as you did before, and nothing will ever change that. No matter what happens in life, they will always be your number one priority. Even though the home may feel different – it will still be full of love.
Consistency and Structure:
Children thrive on structure and routine. So many changes in a short period of time can be very overwhelming and bring on anxiety.
Little things like preparing the same meals and sticking to a solid homework routine can help things feel like a little more normal.
Let Them Know They Are Not To Blame:
Even if you tell your child the divorce was not their fault, they may not fully believe it.
It may take some time for them to understand and accept what’s happening. Even though it may be scary, don’t be afraid to be open and honest with them about the relationship. That way, they can fully understand why they are not to blame.
Children pick up on body language and conversations. They can sense a lot more than you may think. Whether you realize it or not, your thoughts and actions can be very contagious. Although it may be tough, we recommend trying your best to remain strong and positive.
Remember, you don’t need to go through this alone. Your friends, family and therapy, can help you move past this difficult chapter, which in turn can help you and your kids.Lear More
Back-to-school season is always a challenging time for kids and parents alike. No more free summer schedules of sleeping in. It’s time to wake up early, get back into a routine and head off to school. Except this year, school will look different right from the start, as learning will be done virtually for most kids.
There are some things you can do as a parent, to help your child get into a routine steady and make sure your children’s learning is not too disrupted, especially for the first days back.
Create a Consistent Routine
One of the best ways to get started right, is to create and follow a consistent daily routine. This will build clear expectations of what’s next and minimize distractions. A routine will also help turn transitions into habits over time. Habits are things kids can do faster without much push back. The routine has a start time, breaks, lunch, recess and an ending. This type of detail will help them transition back to in-person school, when it happens.
Create a Dedicated Work Space – Not Their Bed
Having a place set up specifically for school time, including supplies for their lessons, will help them settle into that consistent routine. When they are at the desk or table and surrounded by the things their brain associated with school, children will shift into thinking about school. Just like when we go to work, we shift into work mode. Their bed is already associated with relaxation and sleep. This is why their bed is a poor choice for school work.
Make the Schedule Visual
Once you figure out what the daily routine looks like, make a chart, use pictures, make it a visual experience so they can learn to follow it. This gives them a resource to consult instead of simply asking you. When you are inevitably asked “what’s next?”, your reply can be, “I’m not sure. Have you checked the schedule?” This is a solid step towards helping children manage their own time and schedules as well as learning to solve their own problems.
When it is time for a break, make sure that break is a ‘move your body’ break, not a screen break. Kids are bouncy balls of potential energy waiting to bounce. Sitting for hours in front of a computer is far from ideal. So when it’s break time, get them outside to run, jump and burn off that excess energy. That will help them manage their fidgety bodies better during the virtual lessons.
Put in some framework work up front to build a routine, then help your children follow it. This effort up front will help make the rest of a difficult year easier.Lear More
Any child loves attention. Dramatic children know how to get it. Some are born into that role by coming out of the womb with a roar! These vibrant little personalities are great charmers yet can also wear down their parents since they seem to have a huge need to be the center of the show. The dramatic child does this by having big emotions that seem out of proportion to the actual event.
What Can Parents Do?
1. Avoid the meltdown by giving choices
These sensitive personalities tend to feel more empowered when they have just a bit more control in their lives. To do this, they need lots of small choices. If you don’t share a bit of power through choices be warned – they will take the power! The key is to give choices throughout the day on your terms, filling up their need for control. When your children are younger the choices can be incredibly small yet fills up their need for control. Choices for simple things that don’t matter to you make this easy. “Do you want your milk in a mug or in a glass?” “Do you want to put your left shoe on first, or the right one?”
Where this can go wrong
Don’t give big choices such as, “What restaurant do you want to go to?” Keep them almost inconsequential to you. If you can’t accept the choice they might make, don’t offer it or you’ll have a mutiny on your hands!
2. Build emotional intelligence by reflecting their feelings
When the inevitable meltdown does occur, it is time for you to reflect their feelings. This is the exact moment you are either training your child to use drama or you are diffusing drama. When you reflect your child’s feelings, they are immediately calmer because they feel that someone understands what they are experiencing.
As an adult, you have many years on this planet and will have a perspective on tough moments. What is small for you might seem like a fire alarm for your child. Dig down and accept that for your child this is a new and difficult moment and they need you! When you acknowledge that you know how it feels and that it makes sense to be upset, your child will no longer need to SHOW how frustrated they are. The desire to act out the feeling disappears, and therefore the undesirable behavior stops as well.
Where this can go wrong
If you instead choose to correct or admonish your child when they start to be emotional or try to get them to see your point of view this will create a feeling in your child of being dismissed. Some children will shut down in this moment and go silent. However, the drama kings and queens will amp up this moment. They will intensify their emotions because they desperately want to feel understood. If you continually dismiss your child’s feelings during these moments, you are training them to need to have bigger and bigger reactions to be “heard”. You will have plenty of time once emotions have simmered down to help your child see things from a different perspective.
3. Dramatic language to reduce dramatic reactions – build an emotion vocabulary
When you reflect your child’s feelings, such as in “Oh, I can see you look sad right now.” They learn to connect their internal body sensations to words. In the future when they feel the same sensations and emotions again, they will connect it to those words and communicate verbally instead of acting out. Your child will learn to regulate their emotions because they understand those feelings and now have a way to appropriately express them.
Where this can go wrong
Reflecting your child’s emotions – emotion coaching – is different than diminishing, minimizing, criticizing or dismissing. “Honey, you seem very upset right now.” Is emotion coaching. “You’re too sensitive.” Or, “You’re always angry.” Is critical and dismissing. This will only lead to more drama. As a parent, part of your role in preparing your children to be happy, healthy, and well-adjusted teens and adults is teaching them how to regulate their emotions. This means you must be able to do that too. If you become frustrated and raise your voice, they will learn to raise theirs. If you are upset and are sarcastic or critical, they will learn to do that to you.
Need help parenting a drama king or queen? Parent coaching might be what you need to gain tools and feel confident in your parenting. If you want more support for your child, child/play therapy can help them gain new tools to manage their big feelings. Learn to be empathetic, stay emotionally calm, and coach them through their difficult emotions, and they can learn to do that too. That will make their teen and adults lives much happier, and yours!
by Csilla Vegvari, child therapist at Bellevue Family Counseling.