Your child may not know how to describe their emotions, or they may try not to worry you by hiding how they feel. Let them know it’s OK to be sad, angry or anxious. A hug or some quality time with you can speak volumes too.
The NSPCC has some useful tips on talking about hard subjects with your child.
Give your child as much stability as possible. Keeping to the usual routines and activities will help your child adjust.
If you feel your child isn’t coping well with the change to their family, it can also be helpful for you to talk to the people who see them most often. You might want to have a confidential chat with their teacher, for example. Teachers and teaching assistants can be well-placed to keep a watchful eye and reassure your child. It also helps the school to know if something is troubling a child outside the classroom.
Here are some useful resources that might help you and your child adjust to a family separation.
- Parenting through separation is a practical guide to handling the emotional aspects of separation or divorce. It covers how children might react at different ages, tips for talking to your children, and managing your relationship with your child’s other parent.
- Cafcass, who represent children in family court cases, have 2 booklets for children whose parents are separating: 1 for children under 12 and 1 for older children. They both include stories from children who have been through similar experiences, games, and spaces for children to explore their feelings. You’ll find these resources for young people under the factsheets and leaflets called My family’s changing.
- There’s a guide for parents going through divorce or separation created by YoungMinds, the mental health charity for young people. They also have separate helplines for parents and children.
- Family Lives has a free and confidential helpline on all aspects of parenting and family life. They also offer online chat, an email support service and a forum where parents can share experiences, challenges and support.