Divorce can be a challenging and emotionally turbulent time for families, especially for children of all ages who have very little say on how divorce will affect their lives. How do you help your children through this difficult time? Nataxja Cini MSW RSW at Family-Therapy in Ottawa stresses that helping your child through separation and divorce means providing extra reassuring emotional support, creating stability, and maintaining familiar routines for your children and teens. Initially separation and divorce can be a difficult time for everyone. Your children are vulnerable to feeling abandoned or responsible for your marriage breaking down no matter what their ages. Each child reacts differently.
How can I support my child through my separation and divorce?
Nataxja suggests that it is essential to prioritize your child’s emotional needs as you all struggle through this life-changing event. You have to maintain open and honest communication, reassure them of your love, and encourage them to express their feelings even if this means meltdowns and tantrums. You need to keep your children’s consistent routine as much as you can and offer age-appropriate explanations about what’s happening. You could also involve older children in making some decisions when possible, such as choosing new paint colours for their rooms. Children and teens should not be making adult decision. Seek professional support for your child if necessary, because a psychotherapist is trained to help children and teens cope with the emotional challenges they may be facing.
What are some signs that my child may be struggling with the divorce?
You might see your children displaying various signs of distress, including changes in behaviour, mood swings, withdrawal, difficulties at school, acting out or regressive behaviours. They may also exhibit physical symptoms like headaches, aches and pains or an upset stomach. Pay attention to anything out of the ordinary in their emotional well-being or social interactions. If you notice these signs persisting for an extended period, seeking professional help can be beneficial.
How can I promote a healthy co-parenting relationship after divorce?
Co-parenting plays a crucial role in supporting your child’s adjustment. The Ottawa-based counsellors and social workers at Family-Therapy emphasize that effective communication, respect, and a focus on your child’s best interests are the keys. Create a detailed parenting plan that outlines responsibilities, visitation schedules, and decision-making processes. Try to not argue with your ex in front of your child and encourage your kids to maintain a positive relationship with their other parent. It’s important to never pressure or try to convince your child to live solely with you. Children should be kept out of the conflict between the adults. Remember, your child’s well-being should always be the primary concern and focus with your ex when having parenting discussions. If you find talking with your ex is stressful, anxiety provoking or it almost always ends up in a fight, seek professional help for yourself to learn ways you can minimize conflict with your ex.
What can I do to ensure my child feels safe and secure during this transition?
The best advice from Nataxja is that consistency and routine are vital for your child’s sense of security. As much as you can, maintain familiar routines and traditions such as bedtime rituals, family customs, or extracurricular activities. Constantly reassure them that both you and your ex still love and support them. Create a stable home environment that fosters emotional well-being. Encourage open dialogue and pay attention to what they’re telling you, verbally and non-verbally. It is especially important to provide comfort and reassurance whenever necessary. Divorce is a huge change for young children especially as they are the ones transitioning between two homes. Ensure they don’t have too much going on on the days they transition between homes.
How can I help my child understand and cope with their emotions?
Nataxja recommends validating your child’s emotions and create a safe space for them to express their feelings. Encourage healthy coping mechanisms such as journaling, drawing, or engaging in physical activities. Be prepared that your child may be angry and mad at you for the separation. And sometimes your child just needs you to listen to them without you trying to fix anything. If necessary, seek professional counseling to provide your child with additional support and guidance.
Supporting your child through separation and divorce requires patience and understanding. You may find that the best way to get through this difficult time is to seek professional therapy for your child or maybe even yourself. The psychotherapists in Ottawa at Family-Therapy are here to assist you and your family to navigate the complexities of separation and divorce. Contact us to book an appointment.