Anger Training: Helping Kids Cope with Split
Parenting: What Are Some Activities That Can Help Children Deal with Divorce?
Divorce can be a very stressful situation not only for adults but for the children involved. The following list of activities is designed to help parents help their children cope with their conflicting emotions. Common emotions that are associated with divorce and children are anger, sadness, frustration, guilt and nervousness.
Many children depending on their age have difficulty expressing these emotions in words. Therefore, drawing pictures with your child and asking questions about the drawings can help you provide the support your child needs to deal with the divorce. You can also encourage your child to draw pictures based on the following questions: What does divorce look like? Draw a picture of your family. If you had a magic wand, what would your family look like?
For older children, engaging them in a discussion may be helpful. You should always reassure your children that you love them regardless if mom and dad are not getting along at the present time. Asking questions about how life has changed since the divorce can be a good conversation starter. Discussing qualities mom and dad have can also be a good topic for conversation with your child. These conversations can be a constructive approach to helping parents understand their child’s needs and wants during a divorce. The main focus should be the child’s needs. These conversations should not be used as an opportunity to engage in negative talk about the other parent.
Another useful activity is creating a calendar with your child or children which highlights when the child will be with either parent. This activity gives the child an opportunity to plan ahead and know when he/she will be visiting with mom or dad. It also allows the parents an opportunity to discuss with the children what they would like to do during this time (plan a library visit, museum visit). In addition to planning ahead, your child may engage you in a conversation about what he/she enjoys or does not enjoy about visiting with the other parent and this information should not be used against the other parent. The information should be used as a tool to help improve or correct the concerns the child has with his/her adjustment to visiting.
OTHER HELPFUL ACTIVITIES:
Encourage your child to be creative and write a story about divorce. If he/she likes they can also draw pictures to help illustrate the story. This activity can be used to explore the child’s understanding of divorce and also explore what he/she may feel is the long-term outcome of the divorce (will the parents become friends or get back together).
Allow your child to express how they view the situation through their eyes. Practice dealing with difficult situations by acting out scenarios (parent-child relationships) and discussing ways to handle the situation in a positive way. Sometimes children see things from a more critical standpoint and this activity can help parents see how they are acting towards their child during a divorce.
Creating Comfortable Homes.
Your child should feel good about visiting with both parents therefore, creating comfortable environments at mom and dad’s place is very important. Parents should try to help the children with their transition by supplying similar items in both places. If there is a favorite toy or book, the child should be able to travel with this item and be reassured that he/she can take it over to the other parent’s home. Parents should try to always keep additional clothing at the visiting parent’s home. Other items to consider: favorite foods, games, DVDs, school supplies, and books.
Divorce is a very difficult and emotional situation for children. Especially when children are not spoken to about what a divorce is and what will happen when mom or dad leaves the home. Furthermore, a divorce is between the parents not the children. Children should not be put in the middle of the parent’s disagreement. By providing a nurturing and loving environment, your child will be able to adjust to the divorce. Remember to communicate with your child and reassure them you will always love them. Enjoy these activities!