Supporting Your Child or Teen Through Divorce | Lonehill Johannesburg Psychological Counsellor

supporting children through divorce, Lonehill Johannesburg psychological counsellor

supporting children through divorce, Lonehill Johannesburg psychological counsellor

Knowing how to help and support your child or children through a divorce can sometimes be tough and even confusing. Different age groups, personalities and scenarios can make things confusing. Bellow are a few basic cornerstones to keep in mind when supporting your child through this difficult process. For more information and professional advice please feel free to contact me on janine@yourtherapy.co.za or to book a session where specifics and details can be discussed.

Breaking the News/What to say

This can be pretty tough, and you are not always sure what to say.
In brief, keep it age appropriate and honest without necessarily adding ALL the detail or “blaming” your ex. Be gentle and patient and be prepared to answer questions.

supporting children through divorce, Lonehill Johannesburg psychological counsellor

supporting children through divorce, Lonehill Johannesburg psychological counsellor

Encourage Expression of Emotions and Communication
Communicating with your children is key. Allow children to express their emotions or help them define their emotions if they do not have the words to express themselves. Allow your children to be honest, you may not always like what you hear. Be prepared to answer questions honestly yet tactfully, age appropriately and gently without overwhelming with details.

Keep communicating your love for your child, say I Love you and give hugs. It is important to reassure the child it is not their fault and that both parents love them.
If need be work with a mental health professional
Continuity/consistency, Routine and Structure
Most children thrive on structure and having a sense of where they belong. Reassure your children of things that will stay consistent or inform them changes. Try stay positive for changes and help your child be flexible and support them to adapt where necessary.
Although things do not need to 100% the same at each parent’s house certain rules, values and routines such as bed times or homework times for example help to create continuity.
Parental communication is key.

 

Take Care of Yourself
Remember to take care of yourself!! Remember to put your oxygen mask on first before helping others.
Give yourself time to process the divorce and grieve. Seek help if you need assistance, communicate and seek support through friends, family or a professional.

 

Work Together
In the early stages emotions may run high. Remember, working together lowers your stress and that of the children. Try take a step back and remember the greater goal of what is best for the children and ultimately everyone moving to a place of being happy.
Do not fight in front of the children or use them as messengers between you. Refrain from “bad mouthing” each other, remember this is your child’s mom or dad and to hear bad or nasty things about them even if it is true is hurtful.
Allow the children to enjoy their time with the other parent without making them feel guilty.

 

supporting children through divorce, Lonehill Johannesburg psychological counsellor

supporting children through divorce, Lonehill Johannesburg psychological counsellor

Emotions and How Children Can React
As much as divorce is btw you and your ex, it has far reaching effects on all family members, including children. Even the most amicable divorces can be emotion filled processes that needs to be worked through.
List all the emotions you have experienced; this will give you an idea of what your child could react as well. They may not always be able to express it well but they will experience a rage of emotion which can include anger, anxiety, fear, confusion, grief, depression, shame, abandonment and even relief etc.

 

Different Reactions for Different Ages
Remember children of different ages have a different understanding of their world. Support and communicate with your child on an age appropriate level.
As your children grow they may continue to ask questions about your divorce as they mature and develop.