Going through a divorce is a trying and difficult time — not just for you and the other party, but for kids you have in common as well. Around 25 percent of children of divorcing parents experience high levels of stress and anxiety throughout the ordeal, which can affect children's overall physical and mental health and cause performance issues at school, daycare, or behavior problems at home.
Signs of stress in children include irritability or aggression, exclamations of self-harm, sleeping problems or nightmares, loss of interest in activities, and depression or anxiety.
You can take steps to help your kids emotionally during divorce. Use this guide to assist you as you are your family goes through these life changes.
Get Them Therapy
A behavior or family therapist will be able to work with you and your children as you undergo divorce. Your children will learn effective ways to express their anger, anxieties, and fears about their divorcing parents and will have a person they can talk to who they trust.
A therapist may recommend having your child keep a journal, partake in family exercises that encourage communication, or other activities that are beneficial in assisting children through this difficult situation.
Stay on Routine
Children, especially young children who are not fully verbal, rely on routine to feel comfortable and safe. Divorce often throws routine off for little ones, and they notice if bedtimes or mealtimes have changed, when Mom or Dad is absent, or if regular visits to the park or other activities are no longer occurring as usual.
Stay on routine as much as possible for your kids' sake. This usually means coming up with a parenting plan with the other parent to allocate time spent with the children as they are accustomed to and other routine activities. These steps allow your children to keep their routine even when they are split between households.
Parenting plans are a great way to help your child keep routines and are approved by the court system. These plans can be created by both parents working together or, if you cannot communicate effectively with the other parent, can be created via the mediation of a lawyer. Your lawyer will help you draw up a parenting plan that works to the benefit of the children.
Take Care of Yourself
The way you behave and act around your children tells them whether to be calm or agitated. As you go through your divorce, take care of yourself by going for walks when you feel stress (take your kids with you for family bonding), eating right, getting enough sleep, and receiving counseling if you need it.
The importance of a happy and healthy parent is especially important for teenagers or children old enough to recognize emotions. If you let your children see that you are financially, emotionally, or mentally drained, they may take it upon themselves to try to rectify the situation, which increases their stress levels.
When you feel stressed out, don't rely on your children for advice or a shoulder to lean on. Speak to a trusted friend, family member, or legal counsel for all your divorce-related issues. The less your children are involved in the actual divorce process, the better.
Divorcing with children involved is stressful on everyone, but kids often feel the most burden of all. Your priority is keeping your children safe and comfortable during divorce, so use the resources available to you to help your kids transition.
The right lawyer will help make your divorce process as quick and stress-free as possible. For issues about custody, asset division, or other issues related to divorce, trust our legal experts at Fredrick J. Northrop Law Offices. Call us today to schedule a consultation.