When it comes to separation it is normal for children to feel unsettled. Separation usually means big changes for families and it is important to remember it is a tough time for everyone. Talking with your child/ren is a really important aspect of support to help them adjust to the changes in their daily routine. Here are seven practical tips you can implement to helping your child/ren adjust:
Keep it simple – your child does not need to know all the nitty gritty details however they need to have some simple understanding of what is happening and that things will be okay again. It is useful to use clear, simple language your child can understand.
Hit the pause button – when it comes to tough question that you will be asked by your child, it is important to give yourself time to think. If you can’t answer straight away, tell your child you will get back to them. You can say “I don’t know right now, and your dad/mum and l are still working that out, but you will get to spend time with each of us”. If your relationship with your ex-partner is okay, let them know that your child has asked some questions.
Keep the conversation flowing – make time for regular talks with your children. Children can keep thinking about an issue and ask questions more than once. Keep your child informed of any new developments, remembering to keep it simple. Perhaps allocate a regular catch up time, maybe it is playing a game together once a week where conversations can flow.
Acknowledge feelings – parents expressing their feelings in a calm and healthy way is natural. It is important to let your child know that you love them and that your divorce has nothing to do with them. When children observe parents expressing their feelings in a healthy and resourceful way, it reinforces that it is okay for them to express their own feelings as well. It is a great opportunity to explore and understand feelings together.
Support network – sometimes it is easier for children to share their feelings with another trusted adult, whether it be a teacher, aunt, grandparent or counsellor.
Consistent routines – Keeping up with routines will support your child to cope with changes. Informing your child that regular play dates with a friend or reading a special book before bed won’t change. Maintaining morning rituals and creating new ones with your child creates new conversations by involving them in the change. Involving the child in the change helps them fell like they have some control. Listen carefully and acknowledge their opinions.
Laughter is the greatest medicine – take some time out to have fun together. Spontaneous activities that you both love to share, injects laughter and fun into everyday life, especially when parents are going through a separation.