How to Help a Child Cope with Divorce

Guest Blogger, Brooke Chaplan

Divorce is a situation that occurs in many households, and if you and your spouse have decided to separate, you should know that you are not alone. Resources certainly exist to help you cope with this new experience, and some of those resources can also help your children. Here are just some of the ways you can help a child cope with his or her parents’ divorce.

Have a Plan

When you first tell your children about the divorce, you likely do not have a detailed plan for exactly how the situation is going to play out. Still though, you can have at least the start of a plan. For example, maybe you have already decided that the children will spend the school weeks with one parent and weekends with the other, or perhaps you can set a schedule for holidays due to religious beliefs that are different from your partner’s. Some of the concerns that arise with divorce have to do with the unknown, and offering children some stable answers can help.

Seek Professional Guidance

You might think that you and your spouse will work through all of the details independently and that you don’t need to seek professional help. However, since you are navigating a new situation, you likely do not realize all of the obstacles that could come in the way. Instead of trying to manage these challenges independently, work with a divorce attorney. This person can help you to make decisions that benefit both your family members and yourself. Without professional guidance, more stress can manifest for you, your partner and your children.

Maintain Routines

If you’ve ever been on a long vacation from work, you may have found that you were craving to get back into a routine at the end of that break. Children can thrive on routines as well. Too many big changes at once can cause additional irritation and stress for your kids. Work to keep them in their regular activities, to bring them to social events with their friends and to prepare meals on a schedule. As you do this, make sure that your children know that they can come to you with any questions they have. Let them take a break if they need to in order to cope, but have the routine in place for when they come back to it.

Do Something Special

In the midst of the divorce, new living arrangements and overall adjustments for everyone, planning any other sort of activity might seem ludicrous. However, think about several months from now when you will likely have at least found a new normal for yourself. Put a special date in the calendar that your kids can look forward to. Depending upon time, budgetary concerns and other factors, you can make this outing as large or as small as necessary and desired.

Children are certainly affected by divorce to varying degrees. Committing to and implementing some strategies can help to make the situation as positive as possible for your kids.

Author Bio

Brooke Chaplan is a freelance writer and blogger. She lives and works out of her home in Los Lunas, New Mexico. She loves the outdoors and spends most of her time hiking, biking, and gardening. For more information, contact Brooke via Facebook at facebook.com/brooke.chaplan or Twitter @BrookeChaplan

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Tips from The National Children’s Cancer Society: Keeping Siblings Happy and Engaged During Tough Times

Keeping Siblings Happy and Engaged During Tough Times.jpg

This is a guest post written by The National Children’s Cancer Society (NCCS). The NCCS is a not-for-profit organization providing support to families making their way through the daunting world of childhood cancer and survivorship.

When a family is going through a tough time, such as when a child is sick, a large amount of attention is focused on that child. This family focus can leave their healthy siblings feeling angry, guilty, isolated, sad and anxious.

However, research from the Journal of Pediatric Oncology reveals that when children possess a positive personal outlook on life, they’re likely to remain optimistic and have an easier time coping. Parents can help build this positivity through hands-on activities that give their healthy children a chance to process feelings and connect with their families during an emotional time.

With more than 30 years of experience serving nearly 43,000 children facing childhood cancer, the NCCS would like to share age-specific tips and activities to help keep healthy siblings happy and engaged during trying times. While these tips and activities may be designed for families with children that have cancer, many can be applied to families facing other hardships such as a death in the family or parental illness.

Birth to 3 years old:

  • Technology can help you feel connected while apart, use Facetime or record stories and lullabies to soothe the baby while he/she is with a babysitter or in a new environment.
  • Since transitions can take some time, it’s best not to attempt toilet training or major developmental tasks until there is a consistent routine in place.
  • Suggested activity:
    • Play with playdough – Kneading dough is an opportunity to talk while playing, work out tensions and have fun with the baby. Scented playdough can enhance relaxation.

3-5 years old:

  • Even if toddlers revert to behaviors they have grown out of, including having accidents or throwing tantrums, continue implementing standards and discipline as before to provide a sense of security and routine.
  • Give concise explanations of what their sibling or family member is going through to allow them to feel informed and connected to what’s going on.
  • Suggested activity:
    • Pop cancer bubbles – Have children blow bubbles and pretend to be a chemo shark or radiation monster who pops bubbles to kill cancer cells. This will give them relief while developing a small understanding of treatments.

6-12 years old:

  • If possible, let children decide for themselves who will be helping care for them when parents are traveling or absent overnight.
  • Explain that all feelings experienced are okay and reassure them that even their tough feelings are alright too.
  • Suggested activity:
    • Make colorful paper chains – Help children write feeling words on strips of construction paper and discuss what they mean, such as love, life, hope and courage. Let kids decide what order they want their strips in and where they want to hang their finished product.

13-18 years old:

  • Arrange a tour of the hospital or clinic with their brother/sister and encourage them to ask questions of the medical team.
  • Give teens abundant permission to talk about themselves, as they’re probably receiving a lot of questions about their siblings.
  • Suggested activity:
    • Trade something special – When away or busy, trade something personal or special with each other. This will help teens feel supported and connected to their family members through hard times.

About The National Children’s Cancer Society (NCCS)

The National Children’s Cancer Society (NCCS), headquartered in St. Louis, Missouri, is a not-for-profit organization providing support to families making their way through the daunting world of childhood cancer and survivorship. With over 30 years of experience serving nearly 43,000 children, the NCCS is able to take a “no matter what” approach to help families stay strong, stay positive and stay together. The NCCS has been recognized as a Better Business Bureau Accredited Charity and earned a GuideStar Platinum Seal of Transparency. For more information call 314-241-1600, visit theNCCS.org, or on Facebook and Twitter.