Common Reactions Karen Weaver Marriage and Family InternJourney Coaching and Counseling
Divorce changes• Short term- living situations, schools, etc• Long term- how children handle adversity, change and relationships• Children can and will adjust well given proper guidance and support
Understand and HelpThis presentation will help you to:• Understand what your child can process developmentally• Learn ways to help your child express their feelings• Be competent at helping your child adjust to these changes• Develop a closer bond with your child
What did you feel about divorce?Angry, sad, lonely, confused, depressed, worried, overwhelmed, relieved,guilty?
How did you cope?Talking with friends, crying, shopping, planning, moving, traveling,
withdrawal rage Anger Spectrum
Toddlers Developmentally toddlers:• Do not understand cause and effect.• Have difficulty expressing themselves verbally.• Express emotions behaviorally.• Cannot understand permanent or temporary.
Toddlers Common reactions:• Express feelings behaviorally.• Often regress in behaviors.• Demonstrate more anger.
Toddlers What you can do:• Help them express their feelings (labeling).• Validate their feelings.• Provide reassurance, love and closeness.• Play games that connect.
Preschoolers Developmentally:• Feel they are the center of the universe.• Start to understand cause and effect.• Seek to differentiate themselves.• Crave independence, still need and want limits.
Preschoolers Common reactions:• Demonstrate regressive behaviors.• Become clingy and insecure.• Act super good.• Feel insecure you may leave them also.• Act out in angry ways more frequently.
Preschoolers What you can do:• Label and voice their feelings for them.• Provide reassurance, closeness.• Reassure them it’s not their fault.• Validate their feelings.• Help them find a “feel better” strategy/item.
Kids 6-8 years old Developmentally:• Have more reasoning skills.• Able to voice feelings more effectively.• Understand you won’t leave them.• Building more coping skills.
Kids 6-8 years old Common reactions:• Feel guilty, maybe their fault.• Have a strong desire for parents to reunite.• Hide or deny feelings.• Attribute feelings to siblings or friends.• Act super good.
Kids 6-8 years old What you can do:• Validate their feelings.• Provide reassurance, closeness, cuddles.• Answer honestly about getting back together.• Watch your emotional reactions.• Don’t bad mouth the other parent.• Help them find feel better strategies.
Tweens – ages 9-12 Developmentally:• Crave independence, still want emotional guidance and support.• Have more reasoning abilities.• Still have difficulty with ambiguous and complex situations.
Tweens Common reactions:• Start blaming one parent.• Demonstrate more anger.• Can be inclined to distance themselves.• Want parents to reunited.
Tweens What you can do:• Prompt discussions “I wonder if …”• Validate their feelings.• Encourage appropriate expression of anger.• Don’t encourage anger at the other parent – encourage time together.• Problem solve with them.
Teenagers Developmentally:• More adept at coping and reasoning.• Desire more independence.• Hold rigid beliefs, thoughts.• Believe they have control over environment – one parent failed.
Teenagers Common reactions:• Possibly blames one parent.• Growing up too fast (parentification).• Recognize feelings of others.• Withdrawal.
Teenagers What you can do:• Keep open communication.• Encourage them to spend time with peers.• Spend time with each parent.• Keep them involved with the family.• Problem solve with them.
Warning Signs• Frequent angry, violent outbursts,• School behavior problems, trouble with grades• Withdrawing from friends, family, isolating• Cutting, drug or alcohol abuse, self injury, extreme risk taking• Disinterest in previous enjoyable activities.
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