When a relationship ends, it’s hard for all concerned but making sure that the children are ok is normally the single mums biggest concern.
Your children are going to be affected by your break-up no matter what age they are when you separate. In some cases, the problems will show straight away such as in their behaviour, grief, sadness, or isolation. In other cases, the challenges may not appear themselves until they’re older, in adolescence, and sometimes in early adulthood. Research tells us that the longer the parents can remain civil to each other, in front of the child, the better adjusted he will be.
So how do we cope with a child who is struggling after the split?
Here are ten points that may help you!
- The first thing is to always be honest with the child. Tell him/her that even though mummy and daddy won’t be living in the same house anymore, they BOTH still love him and will always “be there” for him.
- Make sure the child understands that its NOT his fault! Nothing he has done has caused the separation/divorce.
- Make sure the child feels safe and secure – try not to change his normal routine too much in the early days.
- If the child is showing signs of anxiety (sleep issues, eating problems, nightmares and bad dreams, anger, separation anxiety, etc) it may be a sign that the child needs some therapy to help him/her deal with their feelings.
- Allow them the chance to feel bad – to hate divorce, to get angry and be sad. Tell them you think it sucks too and it’s okay to talk about how bad it sucks. Hug them tight while they cry at night.
- Make sure you let them know even though it doesn’t feel like it right now, you know they’re strong enough to get through this.
- During this time your kids will be super sensitive to how you’re feeling. They don’t want to rock the boat or make things worse than they already are. To keep the peace, they may tell you they’re okay or act like they’re fine, even when they’re not. A good idea is to give them a worry box where they can write down on little post its …anything that they are worried about – after a few days you can look at what’s in the box together and talk about it.
- Pay special attention to those little details when special events come up. Try to see the world through their eyes and do what you can to remove any unnecessary stressors for them.
- Children can handle hard stuff. They’re often much tougher than we think. And the truth is most kids come through this stronger, more capable and wise beyond their years. Remember this on a bad day
- How a child gets through this tough time and moves forward in life as happy, healthy, human being depends on you.
The choices you are making right now aren’t just shaping their today, you’re shaping their tomorrow. Do your best to choose wisely. Divorce is tough but doesn’t have to be the end of the world.