Yearly more than 1 million children experience the divorce of their parents. The process and trauma these children experience will normally begin long before there is an actual divorce. It will begin with parental disagreements, anger and continue to worsen throughout the divorce process and can often last for many years after the divorce is final.
You can’t take your child’s discomfort away but there are things you can do that will lessen the long lasting effects your divorce will have.
- Utilize Age Appropriate Therapy.It is important to have a third party who can be objective and whose only concern is listening to and putting at ease, the feelings of the child. A child will feel more comfortable expressing anger or sadness to a third party such as a therapist.
- Put Their Feelings First.Stay focused on your children’s needs in spite of your anger, grief and discomfort in the divorce process. Don’t allow your own feelings to get in the way of meeting your child’s needs. Be willing to listen to your child even if what they say is hurtful.
- Pay Attention to Their Moods.Understanding why your child is acting out will help you be more tolerant and aware of their needs. Take notice of when the child may be feeling especially sad or angry. Take extra time to do things with the child that will distract him / her from the problems in the family.
- Watch for any Psychosomatic Symptoms. Some children develop migraines or tummy aches. They internalize their pain instead of externalizing it and acting out. If your child begins to complain of aches and pains have them checked out by a doctor to make sure it is nothing serious.
- Continue to be a Parent. Stay involved in your child’s life. The best way to ward off any long lasting effects is to see your child often, plan activities with your child and stay highly visible in your child’s life. It takes two full time parents to help a child get through the divorce process in a healthy manner.