According to the National Institute of Mental Health, “about 1.5 million children experience divorce of their parents each year—ultimately 40 percent of all children will experience divorce. While most adapt well, 20-25 percent suffer significant adjustment problems as teenagers.” It is crucial to be proactive in maintaining your child’s mental well being during this difficult time.
Here are six ways to help prevent future problems due to divorce:
Talk to your child.
Be honest with them and let them know what is going on once a final decision is made. Children are smart and aware and know when something is “off” in the family. The sooner they know, the sooner the healing can begin.
Make sure your child has a healthy coping mechanism/outlet to process the divorce.
Sports and other physical activities are some of the best ways for children to get out anxiety, stress and depression. Other children may enjoy drawing, playing instruments, or dancing. Whatever it is, make sure your child has their own outlet to cope.
Reassure your child, daily if needed.
Your child needs to know, constantly, that this divorce is not their fault, that both parents love him/her and that life may be different, but that you will get through it together. Make sure your child does not feel alone during this time, but give them age appropriate space when needed. They will process this differently than you. Do not expect them to handle this like an adult.
Allow your child to stay neutral.
DO NOT talk poorly about your ex to your child. Seek out a friend or counselor to help you cope. Your child should not be involved in your divorce at all. They do not need, and are unable to deal with, that stress.
Be aware of your child’s behavior.
If your once outgoing child has suddenly become a recluse or your happy go lucky child is now seemingly angry or depressed, do not let it go. Although each child may process the divorce differently, it still needs to be done in a healthy way.
Seek professional help.
An unbiased counselor that your child feels comfortable with is the best resource to utilize during your divorce. Although it may seem like bills from the divorce process are piling up, there is no better investment than the well being of your child. Not only will this give your child a safe place to talk, cope, process and heal, but it will also show your child that his or her feelings matter to you through all this.
If you are going through, or have gone through a divorce and you want to ensure that your child maintains positive mental health and healthy coping mechanisms, then call at Life Counseling Solutions at 407-622-1770 for a free consultation or to schedule an appointment. It’s never too soon to be proactive.
Author: DeAnn Maccloskey