Helping school-aged children cope with divorce

In a recent post, we discussed how divorce affects children differently depending on their ages. Today, we’ll examine one specific age group – school-aged children between 6 and 12 years old.

Major life transitions such as divorce can be difficult for children at this age. For that reason, it’s important to take proactive measures to reduce the stress on your children and provide a loving, supportive environment where they can feel safe and secure.

According to Dr. Gail Gross, parents can take several concrete steps to protect their children from the negative aspects of divorce and custody disputes.

The first step is to maintain a regular visitation schedule. This provides a comfortable routine, which makes it easier for school-aged children to adjust.

Second, as with children at any age, take care not to expose them to the conflicts or adult issues between you and your ex. Children need to feel loved by both parents. It’s therefore important not to place them in the middle of a dispute or make them the objects of a damaging tug-of-war.

Third, communicate with teachers and school counselors. These people play an important role in your children’s day-to-day lives. Keeping them in the loop enables them to identify troublesome behavior that could signal a deeper problem.

Fourth, encourage your children to discuss their feelings with you in an appropriate manner. Children need to feel heard, especially during stages of upheaval. By helping them talk about what they’re going through, you can work with them to develop healthy coping skills.

Divorce is rarely easy, especially for children. Yet these tips can help you support and reassure your children during what, for them, is a vulnerable and scary time.

Source: The Huffington Post, “How to Help Children Ages 6-12 Through Your Divorce,” Dr. Gail Gross, March 19, 2015.

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