Divorce and custody are already hard enough, but add in a pandemic? This guide shows you all the tips to help your children through these tough times.
By: Brianna French
Let’s face it, we are living in a very different world than we knew a year ago. Every day we are met with phrases like, “the new normal.” Amidst all this chaos, even a short trip to your local grocery store can feel like the most daunting of tasks. Many are experiencing a lot of anxiety during this time, young and old alike. Then, if you throw divorce or custody battles in the mix, the stress can pile up quickly. Here at Tessmer Law Firm, we are here to guide you through the five tips that you can use to lighten the emotional and mental load on your children during this very stressful time.
1. Tell the Truth
Many parents, attempting to shield their children from the stresses of the world, choose to pretend that they don’t exist. This can become counter-productive very quickly. Your children are probably already aware that something is wrong and simply haven’t assigned a name to it. For this reason, it’s helpful to sit down with your child and let them ask you any questions that they might have. Allow your child to express their worries to you. Answer any questions that you can, explain that all the changes being made are simply to keep them safe.
Don’t be afraid if they ask you a question that you can’t answer, your child needs you more than they need answers. The important thing is to face the fear head-on and not allow it to grow in silence. This will reassure your child that the situation may not be as “big and bad” as they thought.
2. Practice Empathy
As adults, we have all experienced our fair share of stress during this chaotic time. I want you to imagine what it would feel like to experience this stress if you were a child. Our kids are still learning how the world around them works, and our current climate is serving as a sort of wrench in the gears for them.
Children rely on routines and schedules to provide them with some sense of stability and safety. When these patterns are disrupted, their worlds can feel very scary and confusing. It’s important to express to your children that, as their parents, we can understand why they might be feeling upset or angry. In truth, a lot of us adults are upset and angry, too. Taking the time to understand the fears and anxieties of your child may help to ease them in the future.
When we become worried or scared, it is not uncommon to end up falling down a rabbit hole of sorts. The same is true for children. One negative thought or feeling can quickly turn into another. Eventually, your child could experience a chronic and overwhelming feeling of anxiety. This is why it is prudent to teach your child the art of reframing.
Reframing, in layman’s terms, is simply the act of taking a situation and choosing to look at it from a different angle. For example, your child may be experiencing a feeling of helplessness during this pandemic. To reframe this, you might draw your child’s attention to all the ways that we can prevent and protect ourselves and our loved ones from becoming ill. In this way, you are reframing the problem in a way that may give your child a small sense of control back in their lives.
4. Create Consistency
Here at Tessmer Law Firm, you may know how much we love to encourage consistency regarding your children when going through a divorce. The current situation is no exception to this advice. Our children’s whole lives have changed in a matter of months. Our old routines and schedules have likely changed greatly, and our day-to-day probably looks very different. This rapid change can cause your child to begin to feel nervous at the looming unpredictability of tomorrow.
To help with this, it is vital to work on creating a new routine for your children. It may not be exactly the same and they will likely miss the old routines, but creating consistency will help your child begin to have a feeling of peace and predictability about their life again.
5. Have Fun
This one is easy enough, but it is vitally important. The world outside might be scary for your kids (maybe even for you) and it is so important that you all have a place where you can truly just be joyful. Of course, it’s natural for your child to be upset sometimes! But it’s up to us, as their parents, to make sure that there is at least one place in the world where they feel safe and happy, it’s up to us to make a home for them.
Build a fort, have a movie night, play outside a little longer. In all of the chaos and negativity, choose to put a little extra joy in your child’s life.
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