5 tips for helping children cope with a divorce

You and your ex aren’t the only ones who will have to deal with the consequences of your divorce. Your children will also feel the impact of your decision to end your marriage. The behavior in which you engage over the next few months can have a profound impact on your children’s mental health and social development.

Making their well-being your top priority can diminish the negative impact that divorce sometimes has on the children in the family. What are some of the ways to help your children better handle your upcoming divorce?

Discuss the change as a family

Although it may be hard to do so, in most cases, the best way to bring up the subject of divorce is with the entire family present for a conversation. You and your ex need to prepare ahead of time so that you can offer the same answers to questions about why. Age-appropriate information is key, as is making sure that you comfort the children when they have emotional responses.

Know what to expect

The way that children respond to the news of a parental divorce is often similar to how they respond to news of someone dying. They may deny the reality at first and then experience angry outbursts when they start to accept reality. They may experience profound sorrow, and they may also feel very guilty as though they are somehow to blame.

If you understand that these emotions are common, you will be better prepared to help your children handle these emotions and prevent them from damaging your relationship with the kids.

Get the children proper support

If you have the right insurance, you may be able to secure counseling for your children. If not, there may be a divorce support group for children and teens nearby that your children can attend. Having a safe space with a professional they trust to remain neutral about issues can help kids process their intense feelings about divorce.

Keep the conflict minimal

Parental disputes in front of the children are a leading cause of negative emotions and stress during a divorce. If you and your ex can keep things civil in front of the kids, that can go a long way toward minimizing their stress.

Prioritize stability and predictability

Children thrive when they have a routine and know what people expect of them. Maintaining consistent rules and schedules across both households and actively communicating with the children about custody exchanges and similar scheduling concerns is important. When they can see that life will remain consistent and predictable despite living in two households, they may have an easier time adjusting to your family’s new circumstances.