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Coping with divorce: Helping your child

As a parent going through a difficult divorce, one of your main concerns is how the divorce will affect your child. You know that you can't shield your child from everything that's happening, but it's your hope that you can at least make the situation positive in some ways.

The reality is that children all react differently to changes, and a great deal of how your child reacts comes down to age and learned behaviors. If your child is a teenager, then he or she may have better coping strategies than if your child is only five or six.

The good thing to know is that there are coping strategies that can help your children through a divorce. Some of them include:

  • Encouraging communication
  • Being reassuring
  • Talking kindly, or not at all, about your ex
  • Talking to your kids about what's happening
  • Becoming more flexible
  • Giving your children time to grieve
  • Seeking therapy
  • Focusing on your own health

Each of these coping strategies is important. Here's a little more about each one.

1. Encouraging communication

When you encourage communication, your child doesn't feel silenced. They feel safe to talk to you about what bothers them, helping them grieve and communicate their grief.

2. Being reassuring

Being reassuring simply means being there for your child. Assure your child that the changes aren't their fault but that you are still going through them. Be there every step of the way.

3. Talking kindly

Badmouthing the other parent will only hurt your child's own ego. After all, your child came from that parent's DNA as well. Avoid being negative.

4. Being flexible

Flexibility means that you give your child space and support while not being too controlling. For instance, if your child is upset, you can give them time to work through those emotions without stepping in. Similarly, if they don't want to be at home and would rather be with friends, that's probably okay sometimes, too.

5. Providing time for grief

Many people focus so hard on the fact that their marriage is ending that they forget that their children are grieving the loss of what they've known their whole lives. Give your child a chance to grieve and express their losses.

6. Seek therapy

For your child's sake, consider therapy. This gives your child a safe place to work through emotions.

7. Take care of yourself

Finally, remember that taking care of yourself is taking care of your child, too. If you're in a healthy state of mind, then you can do more to help your child cope.

These are a few tips and strategies to help your child cope during divorce. With patience, you will get through this trying time in your life.

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