The stress of divorce can manifest itself differently in children than adults, and your children will naturally be scared during this difficult transition.
Age can be a factor in how you deal with stress. You may have major concerns about moving dorms or schools, or changing two-household vacations – and fear of everyday stressors like testing can be heightened during this time.
The good news is that there are ways to ease the pressure and allay your child’s anxiety after the divorce.
Ways To Alleviate Post Divorce Anxiety In Children
Get your kids moving
Encourage your children to do the same stress relief activities that you need for yourself. Make sure your kids exercise regularly, which will give them physiological benefits like a surge of endorphins and less anxiety.
Attending an exercise program or dance class regularly after school or in the community can help children distract themselves from divorce or other situational stressors that cause anxiety. Regular exercise doesn’t have to be expensive – you and your child can walk or run together, or even try YouTube instructional videos on aerobic activities like Zumba or cardio kickboxing.
Spending this time together can also be a great way to check in with your child and talk about what scares them.
Test time can create more anxiety
The stress of divorce can exacerbate performance anxiety about tests that many children already have. Fear of failure can weigh heavily on them, especially at a time when they are more concerned about disappointing you.
Tests with higher stakes, such as B. Final exams, can be worse. Preparation is key. Talk to your kids and make sure you don’t make the most common mistakes on test day, such as: B. do not read the instructions carefully. Preparing your kids before the test day will put them in the right mindset, as well as a good night’s sleep and a decent breakfast.
Let them know that your expectations are reasonable and that even if they fail, you will love them. Knowing you are there to support them eases the pressure.
Go through the changes
If your divorce involves joint custody, your child may be afraid of living in two places. You may get used to a new room, house, or neighborhood in addition to the major changes in the family structure.
If possible, involve your child in discussions about their new circumstances. Let them help decorate their new bedroom, whether they choose a new bedspread or a color to make it their own.
Make sure they have some familiar things in the new room, either permanent or in a bag to be carried from place to place. Eventually, staying in both places becomes a new kind of stability, especially if you help create a sense of normality and routine.
Keep a lid on conflict
Even the most civil separation in marriage has moments when future ex-spouses cannot come to an agreement. Even without arguing, the tension can be felt. When you have to deal with your ex, do your best to get the discussion out of your children’s view.
Never use your child as a mediator or messenger. Parental conflict can make a child feel trapped in the middle and fear increases. Even parents who stay together can cause great anxiety in their children if they have a lot of conflict. So remember, even with a divorce, you can make things easier by keeping conflicts out of sight.
If conflict is inevitable, give your children plenty of emotional support after confrontation.
Speak it out
Sometimes children are afraid to talk about how the divorce makes them feel for fear of making things worse or causing you problems. Make sure they know your door is open and that their wellbeing is your top priority.
Make sure they understand that the divorce is not their fault – children can internalize perceived actions and reactions and feel guilty about the separation. Let them know it’s okay to have many different feelings, including positive ones, and help them articulate what they are feeling.
Your fear will subside when you know that there is nothing wrong with feeling or not feeling a certain way, whatever that may be. They may have a lot of questions and you should try to prepare for where they live and how the divorce will affect their routine, even if the answer is, “I don’t know yet.” You can assure them that you and Your ex-spouse will work on all the answers for them.
Divorce has a very disruptive effect on a child’s sense of stability. Assuring them that you want to disturb them as little as possible can help them get back on their feet. Knowing that you are a constant support in their life can help them survive times when anxiety seems to be growing.
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