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5 ways to help kids cope with divorce

Divorce can be difficult for everyone involved. The spouses themselves, of course, will struggle to adapt to single life after their marriage ends, but the transition is often much harder for the children. Knowing that things will be difficult, there are some actions that you can take, as a parent, to help your kids get through your divorce in the healthiest way possible.

1. Don't put the kids in the middle: Your children shouldn't be forced to choose sides, shouldn't be used to ferry messages between you and your spouse, shouldn't be subjected to name-calling or ranting about their other parent, and shouldn't have to listen to intimate details about the proceedings or the circumstances that led to the split. Instead, treat them with respect - and treat their other parent with respect while you are in their presence.

2. Reassure the children that the divorce is not their fault: Many children have intense feelings of guilt or shame when their parents divorce. These kids may blame themselves, particularly if the divorce announcement comes in close chronological proximity to another key negative event, like a bad report card or punishment. It may seem obvious to you that your divorce has nothing to do with your anything your children did, but they may need to hear that in order to be sure.

3. Consider finding your children a counselor, therapist, religious figure or trusted friend to talk to: It can be hard, particularly for kids, to process all the emotions they feel during a divorce. Having an outlet for their frustrations, as well as someone to help them understand what is going on, can be extremely helpful.

4. Consistency is key: Children are creatures of habit. They are well-suited to repetition and routines, and these can be comforting during times of upheaval. Try to maintain your kids' schedules (including bedtime routines, extracurricular events, family activities, etc.) as consistently as possible during the divorce. Having multiples of favorite blankets or toys, one for each parent's home, can also be helpful, as this provides children with reassurance and comfort.

5. Whenever possible, ensure that the children spend quality time with both parents: In some circumstances, this won't be appropriate or doable, particularly if one spouse was abusive or troubled, but in general, children need a relationship with both their mother and their father. Kids who have the influence and support of both parents are much more likely to make it through the divorce well-adjusted and excited for the future instead of mourning the past.

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