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Ten Tips to Help Your Children Transition Through Divorce'

I keep hearing from families, "what can I do to improve my child's self-esteem so they feel better about themselves"? This is an important topic because a sense of self impacts your child's daily choices and perception of themselves. This will show up in your child's life in dilemmas such as who will I sit with at lunch, can I speak up when I feel someone is being rude, can I disagree with someone I like and still be friends, if they don't like me will that mean I am unlovable, if I make a mistake am I stupid? The power of these thoughts impact your child's self-concept. I see many adults who still struggle with these thoughts because their sense of self is dependent upon how others respond to them.

You can help your child develop their self-esteem not by excessive praise and overcompensation, but by providing them with opportunities for learning and mastery of new thoughts and actions. Mastery builds self-confidence and self discipline, these are the foundations for a positive sense of self.

If you would like to help your child learn these valuable skills sign up here for our Social Skill Building Art Group.

Feature Article: "Ten Tips to Help Your Children Transition Through Divorce"

I realize this article may not apply to all those who read my blog, yet it may be quite applicable for those families that have experienced any type of big stressors such as a family move, loss of job, loss of important friends, family illness or death, or other changes that impact the household.

Each year, more than 1 million children experience the divorce of their parents. Divorce rates peaked in 1979–1981 at 5.3 per 1000 persons and decreased by 1995 to 4.4 per 1000 persons. Approximately 50% of first marriages and 60% of second marriages end in divorce (Cohen, American Academy of Pediatrics). Moreover, the American Psychological Association notes that children of stepfamilies face higher risks of emotional and behavioral problems. Scary statistics, however, there are things you can do to help your children during a time of transition. It is important to use age appropriate explanations. Children often believe they are the cause of divorce or they can fix it. These ten tips will help your children adjust:

1. Never force your child to take sides or involve your child in an argument.

2. Don't criticize or fight with you ex in front of your child. If your child overhears you arguing explain that sometimes people say hurtful things when they are upset, however there are better ways to communicate your feelings. Discuss your concerns with your ex when your child is not present. It is not helpful to bring them into your arguments or adult discussions.

3. Respect the relationship they have with the other parent. It is important to let your children show their love to both parents and spend time with each without feeling guilty. Provide your child with reassurance that both their parents still love them even though they may only be living with one parent at a time.

4. You children know more than you think they know- so talk with them early on and often.

5. Create safety by listening and trying to understand their point of view. Don't try to rescue, overcompensate (by doing or giving them things), or problem solve. The best thing you can to is listen as they express their feelings, without judgment.

6. Be open about what is happening without giving too much unnecessary information. For example, "Your father and I are having problems and we need to separate because we cannot get along with each other".

7.Let you child know that it is not their fault and they cannot fix the problem.

8. Do not blame your ex-spouse. This creates a problem with alliances. Your child needs you to model healthy boundaries so they do not become co-dependent, feeling like they need to be responsible for another's well being.

9. Create a schedule. Children crave consistency; it is the way that they feel psychologically and physically safe. Keep a routine, even amongst the transitioning between households.

10. Let them know they are loved and you are willing to listen and try your best to answer questions they have.

Click here for more information from the AMERICAN ACADEMY OF PEDIATRICS.
Impacts of Divorce Throughout the Developmental Stages

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