Advertising
Advertising

10 Ways To Help Your Children Through A Divorce

10 Ways To Help Your Children Through A Divorce

Divorce is a time of awful change so there’s no question that it is stressful – for both parents and kids. The prospect of their parents splitting sets off all kinds of confusing thoughts in the fragile minds of children. The emotional toll of divorce on kids can be huge and if they don’t get proper help in time, the consequences can be terrible and may last throughout their lives.

Researchers have found that children with divorced parents are twice more likely to suffer from problems like depression, aggression, lower academic performance etc. than ones from intact families.

However, these problems are not inevitable. Knowing how to help your kids through this hard time makes all the difference in how the divorce impacts your kids on the short term as well as on the long run.

Here below are a few things for parents to do to help their kids cope with divorce.

1. Reassure your kids that they are loved

Seeing their parents go through the hassles of divorce can brew all kinds of negative thoughts in kids’ minds which could have devastating consequences in the long run. The changes that divorce brings along puts the kids in situations where they blame themselves for the things happening around them.

“He is leaving because I wasn’t a good kid. If only I had been better behaved”. These kind of thoughts leaves them feeling unloved which could result in problems like low self-esteem and emotional difficulties that can last well beyond childhood.  Comfort them often with hugs and reassure them that both the parents still love them. And also, make sure you are providing them with the necessary child support.

Advertising

2. Tell your children the truth about why you are separating (to the extent possible)

By keeping your kids in the dark or telling them lies about your divorce, you don’t save them any trouble, rather you make the already bad situation worse. If you’re building on the foundation of lies, when it gets sufficiently high it comes down crashing on you.

Be honest and tell your kids why you are divorcing but don’t forget to be age-aware. Don’t let them think the divorce is about them or give them the idea that they are the reason you are divorcing. Tell them early and often that it is not their fault that the family had to split. Help them process the truth without sugarcoating the situation.

3. Encourage them to communicate

Expressing yourself and sharing your feelings helps alleviate the pain and stress caused by any kind of difficult situation. Encourage your kids to communicate. Encourage them to express how they feel about the divorce as a whole and let out their frustrations.

Expressing themselves help them ease their frustrations and gives them a sense of empowerment. Listen to them, help them find words for their feelings and acknowledge them. Provide them therapy sessions if need be.

4. Don’t fight in front of your kids

Heated conversations, arguments about unreliability or finance are likely to take place under these kinds of circumstances where getting along with your spouse seems nearly impossible. But for the sake of your child, don’t fight in front of your kids or make them tools to exchange insults or anything divorce related

Don’t bring children into your fight at all.

Advertising

Researchers have found that the amount of parental conflicts witnessed by the child during and immediately after divorce has a crucial role in his/her adjustment. Most poorly adjusted kids are those exposed to conflicts. Keep your kids away from your fights.

5. Avoid blaming or criticizing your spouse in front of your kids

Criticizing and playing blame games impart nothing more than negativity. You can talk about it to your friends outside the home or in private therapy sessions but keep it away from your kids.

Never vent negative feelings to your children seeking support from them, even if they seem to want you to. Don’t expect your kids to take sides and try to make your spouse look guilty in front of them.

It is always advisable to keep a civilized relationship with your partner if at all possible. That helps reduce the tension of the situation and stress on your kids.

6. Stick to their routine

Divorce brings along many changes in routine which children find confusing and stressful. Try to minimize changes for them. Stick to their daily routine and usual activities as much as possible.

Having to adjust to a lot of changes at once can be difficult to anybody-especially children. It puts children under a lot of pressure and as a result, anxious thoughts set off. While they need to learn to be flexible to changes in their routine slowly, as a parent, you should try and minimize disruptions to things they love doing and make them feel that life is still normal.

Advertising

7. Allow kids to express disappointments

Let your kids vent out their disappointments about the divorce in general or about anything specific. Let them know you understand how they feel and that doesn’t upset you or make you angry.

If you miss a play date with your kid and he/she is disappointed with you about that, he/she is entitled to that feeling and should be able to express it without having to worry about upsetting you.

Being able to express disappointments to their parents helps them recover faster and strengthens parent-child relationship. Offer them mental support and comfort by letting them know that their feelings matter.

8. Aim for peaceful transitions

To help your kids adjust to the new circumstances, try and keep the transitions peaceful. Be flexible enough to allow rescheduling visitations. Be civil and try to keep a good relation with your kids’ other parent.

Present yourself well in front of your spouse no matter how upset or angry you feel, kids notice that. It will help reduce the stress on your kids and the tension of the situation.

9. Seek help from others

Don’t be afraid to seek help from others. Sometimes, it is difficult to handle things alone-you might not know how to deal with the feelings of your children while you yourself are struggling with your own.

Advertising

So, ask for help to your parents, relatives, friends to help you and your children. Tell their teachers, caretakers about what is happening so they can be understanding and supportive to the kids.

10. Keep yourself healthy

Keep your kids away from your worries. Your kids can sense your mood and your mood largely contributes to the state of their own mood. If they sense tension, they become anxious themselves.

Sadness is contagious. But so is happiness. Seeing their parents happy sends them a good message that everything is still fine. Only a happy parent can keep his/her kids happy. The faster you recover, the better you help your kids cope with the changes.

Keep yourself healthy, eat a healthy diet and exercise often. See your friends and keep yourself occupied with things you like doing. Maintain a healthy ambiance around you and that will help your kid a lot.

Featured photo credit: Pixabay via pixabay.com

More by this author

Nabin Paudyal

Co-Founder, Siplikan Media Group

20 Healthy Spaghetti Squash Recipes For Delicious Comfort Food Benefits of Sauna: 8 Ways It Makes You Healthier and Happier 25 Websites Other Than Social Media To Upgrade Your Life Think That Positive Mantras Help a Lot? Try Value Affirmation Instead 6 Successful Entrepreneurs Who Struggle Through Dyslexia

Trending in Child Behavior

1 5 Tips For Teaching Money Management To Children 2 7 Effective Tips for Your Child’s Positive Growth 3 When Should Your Teenager Start Dating? 4 Ten Things To Remember If You Have A Child With ADHD 5 Four Tips to Building Your Child’s Confidence

Read Next

Advertising
Advertising
Advertising

Published on August 15, 2019

15 Tips for an Overwhelmed Working Mom to Feel Better

15 Tips for an Overwhelmed Working Mom to Feel Better

As an overwhelmed working mom, you get a lot of intelligent ideas from magazines, friends and the internet about how to manage work, children, and a household.

Unfortunately, you may still feel exhausted and insufficient at work and home despite the advice to organize, cook efficiently and pamper yourself .

How great would it be to wake up tomorrow knowing that you can begin to feel better without all of those overwhelmed feelings?

The sensation of feeling overwhelmed when you wear a lot of hats: mom, professional, household manager, partner, friend, etc. has its roots in reality. You are absolutely doing a lot of important jobs. But here’s the thing:

If feeling overwhelmed has become your knee-jerk or chronic reaction, this emotion is now literally a part of you that needs your attention so that you can move forward more confidently.

If helping yourself sounds too difficult, never fear. These tips come straight from therapy and neuroscience to hack into your nervous system. You will learn deeper ways to calm down and feel more confident about yourself, your life and your choices.

1. Breathe and Notice What Your Body Feels like Inside and Out

By using body-centered therapy techniques, you can better understand your overwhelmed feelings and offer accurate and practical help.

As you’ll learn, when you feel stressed out, your thinking brain is not your best resource. In fact, simply thinking about and bolstering your efforts to “get rid” of overwhelmed feelings might actually make them worse.

The first step to help when you feel overwhelmed is to simply slow down and breathe. This does not mean that you should suddenly take in huge gulps of air or breathe rapidly. That will send you into panic!

Breathe normally and naturally. Make your breath comfortably slow, extending the exhale. Count 5 to 10 breaths.

2. Get a Little Curious

Ask yourself: How do I know I’m overwhelmed? Close your eyes or soften your gaze if you are able. Imagine shifting your awareness from your outside world and sending it into your body along with your breath.

You might notice the signals right away. For example: My chest is tight, my heart is beating rapidly and there’s a sense of frustrated energy in my legs and arms. Or you might just hear some words like: I’m freaking out, failing or cannot do it!

If it’s possible, get a little curious about this sensation. Consider that while it may be a big feeling, you probably have other parts of you that feel differently.

Advertising

3. Offer Some Loving Care to Stressed-Out Parts of You

Richard Schwartz, developer of Internal Family Systems Therapy defines our personalities as made up of sub-parts that interact within us. This explains why a “part” of you can feel one way and yet, you have another part that feels differently.[1]

Gently acknowledging the part of you that feels overwhelmed and offering it some support and compassion (as you would a frightened child) can soothe your body and mind. “I’ve got you,” is a great mantra to breathe in when you’re overwhelmed.

4. Get Smart About Your Wise Nervous System

You may have heard of the “gut” brain or “body” brain. The science of Polyvagal Theory shows that the entire nervous system impacts how you think and feel – not just your thinking mind.

In fact, did you know that your wise nervous system generally picks up information from your environment before your brain can interpret it?[2]

When you feel overwhelmed, just one tiny cue of “danger” felt in your nervous system is often the unconscious trigger that tips you from busy but competent to feeling freaked out and exhausted.

This cue could be as simple as a song on the radio that feels overly-stimulating, a child’s bad mood (even if it has nothing to do with you) or your spouse forgetting an unimportant errand.

5. Remind Yourself That a Feeling Can Just Be a Feeling

When you’re feeling agitated, your physical body is naturally on high alert. Any information or stimulation you receive at these times will feel overwhelming.

This is not your fault, but it is helpful to understand that usually, when you feel like you’re not good enough, it is not objectively true. Your mind may just be creating a reason for the signals of danger coming from your body.

Allow your body to feel without making a negative judgement about yourself or your life. This technique will help you break the cycle of feeling overwhelmed, then creating negative thought about the feeling resulting in overwhelming yourself even more.

6. Learn Your Most Common Unconscious Responses to Stress

Why is this important? When you feel stressed, you probably respond unconsciously in the same ways throughout your life.

For some, too much stress will quickly create a numb, hopeless sensation. For others, the thought that life is just “too much” leads to bouts of panic or anger. Still, others might freeze completely, feeling highly anxious but not able to do much at all.

From a biological perspective, all of these experiences are pretty normal. When you recognize that your body’s reactions are not faulty or foolish, it’s much easier to reassure yourself and move forward confidently.

7. Exercise the Part of Your Nervous System That Provides Wellbeing and Social Connection

Did you know that you can actually tone your ventral vagal nerve, the nerve responsible for feelings of safety and social connection?[3]

Advertising

As often as you are able, allow yourself to linger on your favorite memories that invoke feelings of wellbeing, connection to loved ones, times of beauty in nature or your favorite memories of pets or places. Use all of your sense to really feel the experience in your body.

By doing this, you’re activating and toning your ventral vagus nerve as you might tone your muscles. Make a kind of “body bookmark” of these purely content sensations to which you can return when stressed.

This practice may feel silly, like an indulgence or even a fantasy. But it is supported by science and is important for you to create a strong and healthy response to stressors.

8. Give Baby Parts a Break

No part of you is trying to hurt you. But parts of us do feel extreme feelings and carry burdens from our past.

For example, if you are feeling overworked in the present, it may activate parts of your personality that felt similarly earlier in life. Deep anger, fear, resentment or sadness provide a signal to you that something from your past could benefit from your attention.

I know this may sound strange, but the next time you feel very overwhelmed, take a breath and notice if you feel like a child trying to do an adult’s job. If so, spend a moment calmly and compassionately reminding all of your inner child parts that you are indeed grown, capable and doing something appropriate.

9. Address Critical Messages You Give Yourself

What do you hear yourself saying to yourself when you feel overwhelmed? You may notice parts of you that sound critical or even cruel.

Statements like “I’ll never catch up,” “Why do I try,” or “I can’t do anything right,” are very common to hear when you’re under stress. Believe it or not, these inner messages are likely misguided protective parts of your personality.

These parts are normal and try to help you by “whipping you into shape” so you won’t fail, alerting you about scared feelings inside, or avoiding shock or disappointment by anticipating how others might criticize you.

If it’s possible, acknowledge these parts as protective. Maybe express a bit of gratitude. Notice how the critical voices inside you, even though they likely mean well, cause exhaustion and even more stress.

When you acknowledge these messages inside, letting them know they are part of you and you see their positive intention, the critical messages calm.

10. Take Small Moments to Express Gratitude

Everyone is talking about gratitude, I know. But there are good reasons for this trend.

More and more studies about gratitude show valid connections between gratitude and lowered stress and mental health. A 2018 multi-university research study concluded that gratitude not only has direct effects on quality of life, but also has indirect effects through perceived stress and mental health.[4]

Advertising

There are many reasons that gratitude impacts our nervous systems in positive ways, but the best way to discover this impact is to simply try it yourself.

Take a minute each day to write down one to three things for which you feel grateful. These can be large or small, important or trivial, but they must be true. Make this a habit and watch your stress-relief grow.

Or you can try some of these 40 Simple Ways To Practice Gratitude.

11. Play with Time

In Gay Hendrick’s 2010 book The Big Leap, he talks about the concept of Einstein time vs. Newtonian time.

Newtonian time is the clock time we all watch all day. Einstein time is more about what you make with your moments, realizing that your perception can slow or speed time up.

For example, if you are spending time with someone you love and doing something you enjoy, time moves very quickly. Conversely, if you are doing a miserable job in uncomfortable weather, each second can feel like an eternity.

The next time you feel stressed for time, take a slow breath and remind yourself that you make time. Time belongs to you. Then, enjoy the pace and do what you need to do. With practice, this little tool will become valuable for overcoming the mental pressure of time.

12. Don’t Be Tricked by Perfection

When you’re in the thick of raising children and working, sometimes nervous energy presents as perfectionism. In an effort to feel in control, you may make arbitrary but unreasonable goals for yourself that feel like they are necessary or true.

Make a quick inventory of every job you are expecting of yourself and your family. Now question it all. What is really important and what is just preferable? What jobs can be left to someone else’s discretion, done well-enough by the children or dropped completely?

Keep any jobs that give you joy and do them joyfully. Let go of jobs that feel like standards or expectations with little or no payoff. Save them for retirement if you like.

13. Give Yourself Credit for Quality Time with Your Kids

Think of the time you spend relaxing with and enjoying your children as a $100,000 per hour job. Very small amounts are still incredibly valuable.

Showing your children that they are important is just as likely to happen in a ten-minute game of catch as in a whole day at the water park. A shared snack time, a book before bed, a half hour away from your phone to allow loving eye contact with your babes adds up to a lifetime of security and wonderful memories.

Imagine your child someday saying, “Mom worked hard, but she always had time to hug me, to hear about my day, and to offer me guidance. I always knew that I mattered to her.”

Advertising

14. Meditate for One Minute a Day

Yes, you may do more. But if you can’t afford any more than one minute, go ahead and sit comfortably, breathe and be in your body for this time. It’s such a simple but powerful exercise and the kids can do it too.

While you meditate, notice your loving heart. What does it need from you today — patience, compassion, creativity, caring, play? Remember to show up for yourself and you will show up for your work and your family as well.

15. Guard and Celebrate Sleep

From tinies to teens, there are many unavoidable reasons that kids interrupt your sleep.

Here’s the thing: Unexpected sleeplessness due to childhood growth or illness is normal and not easy to control. If you are feeling overwhelmed, though, sleep is crucial.

There are two things you can do to improve your mindset toward sleep so that you set yourself up for confidence rather than collapse.

One, prioritize and protect your sleep time. If you tend to wait until the kids go to sleep to complete work or finally relax, that’s okay. But don’t let these activities cut into your sleep time.

Given the choice between another load of laundry, Words With Friends, binge watching Game of Thrones or eight hours of sleep, consistently choose sleep.

Two, appreciate and express gratitude for any sleep you get. Sometimes, it’s impossible to get seven or eight hours of sleep. However, allow yourself to enjoy any time when you are laying in a comfy space allowing your body to rest and repair.

When you wake up saying “I didn’t get enough sleep last night,” you put your mind on alert that there is something lacking. This thinking alone can trigger feelings of overwhelm.

Set your nervous system up for success by appreciating any amount of rest.

Final Thoughts

Life as a working mom is not an easy one. Overwhelmed feelings are natural and normal but, they can take over and cause chronic stress and dissatisfaction.

Allow yourself just a few moments a day to reorganize your thoughts and feelings using the steps above. You’ll soon discover your calm and capable self.

Take a lesson from your growing children: small changes create big results now and in the future.

More for Working Moms

Featured photo credit: Bruno Nascimento via unsplash.com

Reference

Read Next