Helping your child adjust to the divorce

Divorce can be traumatizing to children but there are things parents can do to make the transition easier.

Divorce is never easy, even when it is an amicable one. For children in Rockford, whose parents have split, it can be a deeply traumatic and difficult time. This is why it is so important for parents to put their attention on their child's needs instead of wondering how they ended up in this situation.

Psychology Today points out that not all children react the same to divorce. Parents should expect to see certain behaviors, such as rebellion or aggressiveness in older kids, and clinginess or dependence in younger children. This makes sense in that older kids are usually embracing their independence, hanging out with their own friends and fighting for more freedom. Younger children are completely dependent on the family for their security and sense of self. Thus, when the parents are no longer under the same roof, the younger child's sense of identity and stability is shattered. The good news is that there are things parents can do to help their children adjust to the changes occurring.

Maintain a routine

Whether the child is at one parent's house or the other, parents should follow a routine that the child can depend on. This routine should include an established bed time, working on homework, making dinner together instead of always eating out, and a visiting schedule that is consistent. In fact, Parents magazine suggests posting a calendar in each home with the parent's individual days marked on it. This gives the child a heads up of an impending switch and can also assure them that the other parent is not going to just disappear.

Personalize each home for the child

Rather than just one home, parents can help children feel that they have two loving homes and two bedrooms. To give the child a sense of security, parents should encourage the child to have a picture of the other parent in their room. Both homes should contain books, toys, toiletries, movies, games, pajamas and clothing. This will make it easier on everyone involved and make the transition between homes less stressful.

Additionally, parents should have pictures of the child in the front room and can even keep a special dish set or cup on hand. Letting children pick the color of the paint for their new bedroom, help in shopping for furniture and other activities can also give them a sense of belonging.

Establish rules

It can be tempting for Rockford parents to try to compete for the title of "favorite" but this will actually harm the child psychologically and emotionally. Rather than compete, parents should work together and separately to establish household rules. These rules may involve how much time is spent on the computer, doing chores or TV time.

Disputes will arise between parents from time to time but it is important to keep the child out of it. If parents are unable to resolve the issue themselves, they may find it helpful to seek counsel from a family lawyer.