It can be hard to get your child to open up to you at the best of times but when you are going through divorce or separation it is more essential. Children need to communicate to you how they feel about the situation so that you can help them manage those feelings and understand them. There are potentially lots of changes going on in their lives which they may need to talk about and discuss with you.
Give them your attention
Children have a habit of wanting your attention at the moment they need need to talk. As parents this isn’t always convenient. Find a time when you and your child are not busy with other people and other things and make a date with them. With time allocated they can have a good think about what they want to say to you and keep their emotions in check.
Make time to talk
Ask your child to suggest what you can do together – perhaps you could go bowling, out for dinner or for ice-cream somewhere. Let them choose the activity somewhere where you will also have the opportunity to talk and explain that this is their time to talk and they can ask you whatever questions they want and you will answer them honestly. When I say honestly think about the age of the child and what is the right level of information to give them and use appropriate language. When talking with them praise them for being so brave with their feelings and explain to them that you do not expect them to be brave for ever. They are allowed to cry or be angry but talking things over with you can make them feel loads better. A problem shared is a problem halved.
Continue to be a family
A child will open up to you if you spend quality time with them and get them involved in things you are doing so they feel part of a family still. Tell them about some of your feelings too about the situation as this can often help, Explain that you are learning about this new situation too.
Let their friends help
If your child really does not want to talk to you perhaps there is someone in their class at school whose parents have gone through the same thing that they could talk to and share experiences of mum and dad splitting up. This could really help them and they could feel more prepared for what to expect being part of a single parent household. What did their friends feel and do when their parents split up and what is life like for them now? Alternatively, there may be someone else they can trust with their feelings such as a teacher or a friend of the family, if not a counsellor or a therapist. Encourage your child to speak to someone so they don’t worry or get upset on their own.
This article was supplied by Naomi Richards, The Kids Coach. Naomi works with children as young as six years old, helping them understand and handle the changes they experience when their parents split up.