5 tips for helping children cope with divorce

Going through a divorce is one of the hardest things a person can do. During a divorce, nearly every part of a person's life is thrown into turmoil. Even in relatively amicable divorces, complete emotional recovery can take a very long time.

It is important to remember, though, that for however difficult life after divorce is for adults, it is significantly more challenging for children. The stress, conflict and confusion that divorce brings can lead to behavioral issues, problems at school and many other challenges.

Therefore, it is important for parents who are going through a divorce to take proactive steps to help their children adjust to the change. While nothing can totally eliminate the negative impacts of divorce, using the following strategies can help make the transition much easier:

  • Minimize conflict: No child likes to see their parents fight. Do your best to isolate your children from any conflict you and your spouse might be having. It is especially important to avoid conflict during custody transitions, since these tend to be moments where emotions are already running high.
  • Keep things positive: While it is good to have honest and age-appropriate conversations about what is happening, it is important to try to foster a positive atmosphere in your home. Don't vent at your children or burden them with your problems. If they start acting out, do your best to be supportive instead of getting angry.
  • Maintain consistency: Children, especially young ones, thrive on predictability. Try to establish a sense of order as soon as possible. If you and your ex-spouse share physical custody, do your best to stick to a schedule. Additionally, you may find it helpful to carry forward some of your old routines and family traditions from before the divorce.
  • Give kids space: Just as consistency is crucial for younger children, personal space is paramount for older tweens and teens. Make sure your kids know they can come to you if they want to talk, but give them the space they need to process the divorce in their own way.
  • Uphold your obligations: Children need the support of both of their parents, even if they are divorced. If you are supposed to pay child support, make your payments on time, every month. If you are supposed to share custody or your ex-spouse has visitation time, avoid doing anything that could interfere with the time your children get to spend with their other parent.

These are just a few of the steps you can take to help your children cope after a divorce. If these tips aren't working for your family, consider enlisting the help of a counselor or family therapist. Sometimes, a little professional intervention can go a long way toward helping a family heal.