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Does Your Child Need Therapy to Cope with Your Divorce?It is hard to predict how a child will react to divorce, but parents should prepare for a difficult transition period. Your child’s reaction will partially depend on the environment you create for them. A supportive and caring environment should help your child, while exposure to divorce conflict could cause further trauma. Your child’s personality is another important factor in their reaction. Some children are more prone to depression and anxiety than others. Child therapy is an option you have if your child is struggling to adjust to the divorce, but how do you know whether therapy is right for your child?

Signs That Therapy May Help

Just because your child has an emotional outburst does not mean you should immediately book an appointment with a child therapist. Being upset is a natural reaction for children during divorce, and some children can process their emotions on their own if given time and care from their parents. If your child’s negative behavior persists or grows worse, then it may be time to seek outside help. For instance, your child may:

  • Continue to show signs of depression, anger, or anxiety
  • Regress to immature behavior for their age
  • Become more attached to you or your co-parent
  • Have trouble concentrating on or show a lack of interest in schoolwork or other activities
  • Become less communicative and more withdrawn in their home life

If you think your child may need therapy, you need to talk to your co-parent about it before you take action. Starting therapy is a major healthcare decision, and your parenting agreement may require consent from both parents. At the very least, this is a decision your co-parent should be aware of.

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How to Nurture Resilience in Your Children After DivorceAs a parent who decided to divorce, you may be concerned about how the divorce will emotionally affect your children. You know that they will be upset, but will the divorce cause long-lasting emotional trauma? The good news is that it is possible for children of divorce to become more resilient because of their experience, making them more capable of handling other hardships that may occur in their lives. There are several ways that you can create an environment that enables your child to build that resiliency:

  1. Healthy Communication: To understand how the divorce is affecting your children, you need to listen to what they say and watch how they behave. Encourage them to be open about their feelings without forcing them to talk when they are clearly not in the mood. When they do decide to talk, let them finish speaking without interjecting to correct them or add your own opinion. Resist your instinct to want to solve their problems for them or to reassure them that things are not so bad. The most important thing for you to do is to show sympathy towards their feelings and answer the questions that they ask.
  2. Creating Structure: Life will not be the same for your children as it used to be, but you can create a new normal that still supports them. Establish routines that incorporate familiar activities while adding new ones. Keep up traditions, such as holiday activities or special meals. Stay consistent with your parenting schedule so that your children can grow familiar with when they will spend time with each parent. Do not treat your children with gifts or special activities as a way to make up for the divorce. They need to settle into a normal routine.
  3. Preserving Connections: Your child’s relationships and activities outside of your home are some of the ways they may be able to cope with your divorce. Even if things have changed drastically at home, they can find relief in spending time with their friends and attending school. Relocating soon after a divorce takes those outlets away from them and may cause too much change at once. This should be one of your top considerations if you are debating whether to move your children to a new area following your divorce.

Contact a Kane County Divorce Attorney

Co-parenting is one of the most important factors in raising resilient children. You need to be able to put your personal differences aside in order to make decisions that are in the best interest of your children. At Goostree Law Group, our St. Charles, Illinois, divorce attorneys will help you create a parenting plan that fosters a healthy co-parenting relationship. Schedule a free consultation by calling 630-584-4800.

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Has Divorce Made You an Overbearing Parent?Children of divorce need their parents’ attention to console them and remind them that they will always be loved. If you are worried about your divorce causing lasting emotional damage to your children, active parenting will allow you to watch for signs of emotional stress. However, it is possible to be too active in your parenting, to the point that you may harm your relationship with your child. You need to find a balance in which you are attentive to your children’s needs without becoming controlling or overbearing.

How Divorced Parents Smother Their Children

An overly involved parent can smother their child with positive and negative attention – both of which can be unhealthy:

  • Positive attention may be spoiling them with gifts or being overprotective of them.
  • Negative attention may be harsh punishments for misbehavior or setting strict rules.

It may not be your intention, but smothering your children is emotionally manipulating them to serve your own desires. Your children may become overly attached and dependent upon you, which hinders their maturation. Your overbearing parenting could also have the opposite effect, causing your children to rebel against you.

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Your Children Are Not Messengers When Co-ParentingCommunicating with your co-parent after a divorce can feel uncomfortable, even if you did not separate on bad terms. You need to stay in contact with each other to discuss issues related to your children. For some parents, having a child act as a messenger seems like a natural solution to the problem. After all, your child sees both of you regularly. However, any parenting expert will tell you that using your child as a messenger for your parenting discussions is unhealthy for them, no matter how old they are or mature they may seem.

Problems

Asking your child to deliver a message to your co-parent is forcing them to become a player in your co-parenting drama. You may think that it is benign to send a simple message, such as that you will be late in picking up the children next week. By tasking your child to deliver a message:

  • They receive your co-parent’s negative reaction to the news and perceive that the reaction is directed towards them
  • They are exposed to details of the conflicts between you and your co-parent that they should not know
  • They may forget to tell your co-parent and feel guilty about failing their task

In a similar vein to using your child as a messenger, you should not ask your child to spy on your co-parent and report back to you. You put them in the unwinnable position of either betraying their other parent or disobeying you.

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Four Ways to Help a Misbehaving Child During DivorceChildren can be unpredictable when it comes to how they will react to major events, such as their parents getting divorced. You like to think that you know your child well enough to be able to anticipate how upset they will be, but there is no precedent for them responding to divorce. If your child’s behavior takes a turn for the worse, that will add yet another concern to an already stressful time in your life. Bad behavior for some children is throwing tantrums or behaving rudely. For others, it may be more serious misbehavior that gets them in trouble with school or the law. You need to address your child’s behavior before it becomes a larger problem that creates consequences for them:

  1. Maintain Discipline: Do not let your child get away with bad behavior because you feel guilty about the divorce. Your divorce may be the reason they are acting out, but being lax with discipline will encourage their behavior. You should maintain the same rules for behavior and may need to punish your child if their actions warrant it.
  2. Show Compassion: There are ways to discipline your child while also acknowledging the pain your divorce is causing them. Try not to show anger towards your child when they behave poorly. Talk to them about how they feel and how you may be able to help them with their struggles.
  3. Pay Attention: Your child may be angry at you for the divorce because they feel you are ignoring them and their needs. You know that your parental responsibilities are one of the most important parts of your divorce, but they may not understand that. Paying attention and listening to your child is the best way you can demonstrate that they are still your top priority.
  4. Work with Your Co-Parent: Whatever efforts you are making to correct your child’s bad behavior, you and your co-parent need to be consistent. Discuss with each other what the rules are for discipline and what is an appropriate response to bad behavior. If one parent has grounded a child for misbehaving, the other parent should continue that punishment when the child is with them.

Contact a Kane County Divorce Lawyer

Many children struggle to adjust after their parents get divorced, which makes the time they spend with each parent important. A St. Charles, Illinois, divorce attorney at Goostree Law Group will make sure you are able to get enough parental responsibilities to be able to help your child through the transition. Schedule a free consultation by calling 630-584-4800.

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