Supporting Your Children After Divorce<br />A Summary ~ Ages 6 to 8<br />
A Period of Self-Discovery<br />Transitioning from a world at home to the world of peers at school<br />Getting along with...
A Period of Self-Discovery<br />Peer group is more important in shaping self-image.<br />Base much of their self-image on ...
Instability at home leads to insecure feelings at school and with peers.<br />The child needs to know that home life is st...
Post-divorce Reactions<br />Sad about the loss of the intact family<br />Worried about being different from peers<br />Pro...
Post-divorce Reactions (continued)<br />May hide/deflect feelings<br />May blame every disappointment on the divorce<br />...
Post-divorce Reactions (continued)<br />Worried about parents<br />Worried about parents’ well-being<br />Want to protect ...
The child wants to know…<br />“Will my parents hold things steady so that I can count on them when I really need them?”<br />
The Child Needs…<br />To feel secure in having a family he can count on.<br />Reassurance of your love<br />To know that y...
Make Sure Your Child Understands That…<br />The divorce is not the child’s fault.<br />Nothing the child did, thought, fel...
How Parents Can Help<br />Provide regular, frequent contact with both parents.<br />Assure your child that the noncustodia...
How Parents Can Help<br />Be in control of your emotions.<br />It’s okay to be sad, even cry, just not for an extended per...
How Parents Can Help<br />Encourage children to talk about feelings.<br />Talk to teachers, babysitters, etc. about the di...
Specific Situations<br />Handling acting out, inability to focus, withdrawn behaviors<br />Remember that the child is not ...
Specific Situations<br />Gently correct a child who blames every disappointment on the divorce.<br />Acknowledge the child...
Symptoms of Hidden Sadness<br />The child<br />Never mentions the divorce or separation<br />Never mentions the absence of...
Addressing Hidden Sadness<br />Initiate a conversation<br />Explain that sadness is normal and healthy after family change...
Specific Situations<br />When your child becomes fixated on another family’s divorce or tragedy<br />Mirror what the child...
References<br />Helping Your Kids Cope With Divorce the Sandcastles Way. Nueman, M. Gary.<br />What About The Kids? Waller...
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Supporting Your Children After Divorce, Ages 6 through 8

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Developmental characteristics of children in this age group, their needs, and suggestions for parents.

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  • Criticism of a parent is viewed as criticism of the child.
  • Children at this age think that parents control everything. If they blame their parents, then they feel extremely helpless and unprotected. In addition, self-blame helps the child feel he has the power to reunite the parents. Parental reunification: They think that divorce-related conflict and change will end when parents get back together (when things are back to normal).Regression: It’s not safe to venture out. An expression of anxiety. The child wants to return to a time when his parents took better care of him, when he didn’t need to be independent.
  • Never criticize your ex: Helps self-esteem and reduces confusion
  • Supporting Your Children After Divorce, Ages 6 through 8

    1. 1. Supporting Your Children After Divorce<br />A Summary ~ Ages 6 to 8<br />
    2. 2. A Period of Self-Discovery<br />Transitioning from a world at home to the world of peers at school<br />Getting along with peers<br />Demands of classroom learning<br />Sitting still<br />Watching the teacher<br />Remembering what she said<br />Following instructions<br />Capable of expressing emotions, fears, and problems verbally<br />Seeks independence, mastery and accomplishment<br />Begins to compare himself to others<br />Has a better understanding of cause and effect, but still doesn’t see the relationship between pre-divorce conflict and divorce<br />Knows that mom and dad don’t control the world<br />Understands numbers, time<br />No concept of geography, space, distance<br />
    3. 3. A Period of Self-Discovery<br />Peer group is more important in shaping self-image.<br />Base much of their self-image on how they and others perceive their parents<br />Wants to fit in<br />Aware of and affected by the feelings of others<br />Fears: being laughed at, that he may fail in relation to peers<br />
    4. 4. Instability at home leads to insecure feelings at school and with peers.<br />The child needs to know that home life is stable to have the confidence to step out at school.<br />
    5. 5. Post-divorce Reactions<br />Sad about the loss of the intact family<br />Worried about being different from peers<br />Problems typically manifest at school.<br />Anger, including misplaced anger (which may lead to isolation from peers)<br />Inability to focus at school<br />May lose a year of school work<br />Danger that they may fall behind, fail to learn how to read<br />Withdrawal<br />
    6. 6. Post-divorce Reactions (continued)<br />May hide/deflect feelings<br />May blame every disappointment on the divorce<br />Blame themselves<br />More comfortable feeling guilty & in control than faultless & at the mercy of random events<br />More comfortable blaming themselves than parents<br />Dreams that his parents will reunite<br />Hidden sadness<br />May regress (thumb-sucking, bed-wetting)<br />
    7. 7. Post-divorce Reactions (continued)<br />Worried about parents<br />Worried about parents’ well-being<br />Want to protect parents from their sad feelings<br />Worried about being replaced<br />May be possessive and threatened by new people in your life.<br />May choose to talk about divorces in other families, how divorce affects other kids, rather than talk about their own feelings<br />Changes in eating or sleeping patterns<br />Diminished interest or loss of interest in activities that were previously engaging<br />Sudden changes in behavior<br />Drastically different behavior at home compared to behavior at school<br />
    8. 8. The child wants to know…<br />“Will my parents hold things steady so that I can count on them when I really need them?”<br />
    9. 9. The Child Needs…<br />To feel secure in having a family he can count on.<br />Reassurance of your love<br />To know that you’re concerned and thinking of him<br />To know that things are settling down<br />To know that mom and dad are in control<br />To know that he still has both parents<br />To get back to normal activities and find them engaging and absorbing<br />Your comfort, encouragement, and availability to help with school work. <br />Your comfort, encouragement, and availability to give advice for interactions with peers.<br />
    10. 10. Make Sure Your Child Understands That…<br />The divorce is not the child’s fault.<br />Nothing the child did, thought, felt or said led to the divorce.<br />He was born into a loving family.<br />He is and will always be safe.<br />You’ll always be there for him.<br />Your child will have contact with both parents (if true).<br />He will always have both parents and remain in touch with extended family (if true).<br />Many other children have divorced parents too.<br />Many kids want their parents to get back together.<br />If true, explain that your divorce is final.<br />You are concerned about what your child is going through.<br />You want the child to focus on school, activities and friendships.<br />
    11. 11. How Parents Can Help<br />Provide regular, frequent contact with both parents.<br />Assure your child that the noncustodial parent is comfortable in his/her new home. Take a trip to the noncustodial parent’s residence so the child can see this with his own eyes.<br />Explain the reasons for the divorce itself, plans for housing, visitation, and how this will fit in with extracurricular activities.<br />Explain upcoming changes in advance.<br />Never criticize your ex around your child. (Watch your nonverbal cues.)<br />
    12. 12. How Parents Can Help<br />Be in control of your emotions.<br />It’s okay to be sad, even cry, just not for an extended period of time.<br />Don’t try to hide your emotions from them. Your kids will learn to hide their feelings too.<br />Try to maintain a calm, positive attitude, to help your child feel that you are in control.<br />If you feel free because of your divorce, be sensitive. Hosting a “freedom party” may be confusing and hurtful to your children.<br />Establish and stick to a normal daily routine. <br />Maintain consistency.<br />Across both parents’ homes if possible<br />Don’t break promises.<br />Don’t change things without notice. <br />Anticipate signs of stress.<br />
    13. 13. How Parents Can Help<br />Encourage children to talk about feelings.<br />Talk to teachers, babysitters, etc. about the divorce. Ask how your child is responding and ask to be informed of changes in behavior.<br />Provide support, encouragement and opportunities for friendships, help with school work, and activities.<br />Find ways to allow your child to participate in extracurricular activities, birthday parties, sleepovers, opportunities to develop peer relationships.<br />Find the time to help with school work and homework.<br />Show awareness, concern, and interest in how your child is handling family change.<br />
    14. 14. Specific Situations<br />Handling acting out, inability to focus, withdrawn behaviors<br />Remember that the child is not trying to make your life miserable. He’s just worried and feeling insecure.<br />Be firm about unacceptable behavior, but generous in offering reassurance, understanding, and support for how the child may be feeling.<br />Ask the child to talk to you about feelings rather than acting out.<br />Ask how you can help the child reduce his worry.<br />Praise improvements in behavior.<br />
    15. 15. Specific Situations<br />Gently correct a child who blames every disappointment on the divorce.<br />Acknowledge the child’s feelings and disappointment.<br />Clarify the actual reasons for the disappointment.<br />Provide evidence that the child is loved and cared for.<br />Help the child create a plan to feel better.<br />
    16. 16. Symptoms of Hidden Sadness<br />The child<br />Never mentions the divorce or separation<br />Never mentions the absence of one parent<br />Seems overly eager to help<br />Often makes comforting statements, “I’m here for you,” “I’ll always love you.”<br />Unfazed by parental conflict<br />Unfazed by missing a planned visitation<br />General lack of emotion<br />Less enthusiastic about people, things, and activities he enjoyed before<br />Shows a new attraction to sad movies, books and news<br />Look for symptoms of withdrawal, denial, or depression.<br />
    17. 17. Addressing Hidden Sadness<br />Initiate a conversation<br />Explain that sadness is normal and healthy after family changes<br />Offer to listen to the child’s feelings<br />Offer to help the child to come up with a plan to feel better.<br />
    18. 18. Specific Situations<br />When your child becomes fixated on another family’s divorce or tragedy<br />Mirror what the child says, realizing that they may be attributing their feelings to others.<br />Ask questions. (Be careful that they are not leading questions).<br />Provide reassuring, honest answers.<br />Remind your child that every family is different.<br />Remind your child that you will always love and be there for them.<br />
    19. 19. References<br />Helping Your Kids Cope With Divorce the Sandcastles Way. Nueman, M. Gary.<br />What About The Kids? Wallerstein, Judith.<br />

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