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Monday 5 January is ‘National Divorce Day’
Top tips from the NSPCC and Childline to protect your kids during divorce
- Say ‘I love you’
Tell children how much you love them. It sounds obvious but kids of all ages need extra reassurance if they feel their family is falling apart, and that they will be separated from loved ones.
- Listen up
Listen to your kids and comfort them if they are upset or worried. When you are caught up in your own worries, it can be easy to forget the feelings of those around you.
- Keep talking
Reinforce the fact that the split is not their fault.
- Be honest
While children do not need to be involved in every detail of a divorce, it’s important to be as honest as possible about what happened and what’s going to happen while giving as much reassurance as possible.
- Keep a routine
Try and keep the day-to-day schedule as normal as possible. Introduce any changes slowly and talk them through with your children.
- Family time
Make sure both parents have as much time as is practical to spend with the children, unless there are obvious reasons why this would be dangerous — such as a partner with drink or drug problems.
- Home sweet home
If your children come to visit you in your new home, make sure there are some familiar items there such as toys or posters for the bedroom. This will help them to see that you are still a big part of their lives.
- Share the load
When appropriate, try and share out the childcare responsibilities between both you and your partner, so your kids can see that both parents are still very involved in family life.
- Keep some things to yourself
Don’t criticise your partner in front of the children or alienate them from him/her. Whatever has happened between you two, your children will still love both parents equally.
- Phone a friend
Find someone you trust to talk to about what’s happening in your life. It makes things harder if you bottle up the hurt, and having a friend to talk to means you are less likely to let off steam in front of the children.
- Remember the little things
Children may be very worried about things that don’t seem important to you, like what is going to happen to their pet or whether they will see their friends. You need to remember that these things are important to your kids.
- Get a second opinion
Children often find it difficult to express their feelings, especially younger kids. Look for signs in your children’s behaviour to keep track of how they are dealing with the split. Ask friends, families and teachers to keep an eye on their behaviour too. Remember that when you are dealing with your own feelings of grief, it can be hard to spot the signs that your children may be giving out, which might not be obvious.
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