Know the plan
“The most common mistake parents getting divorced make with their kids is to tell them about the divorce too soon,” says Dr. Jenn Mann, PhD, psychotherapist, and author of The A to Z Guide to Raising Happy, Confident Kids. “Children should not be involved with the process, the decision-making, or the conflict.” Parents should only let their children know that they’re getting divorced until after they have already filed, found a new home for the parent who is moving out, have furnished it and have a concrete move-in date. “Not knowing what happens next or when is too anxiety-provoking for children. They need to be presented with a completed and specific plan.” Adds Dr. Mann: “It is best if the parents can be a unified front and tell the kids together without blaming one another. Also, if you have more than one child, it’s best to tell all the children together and then discuss age specific issues with children one-on-one. It’s not good for one child to have to hold a secret from their siblings until a parent tells other kids.” Here are 13 ways to stop sibling rivalry.
Watch kids extra close
After sharing your news with your child, pay attention to what your child says—or doesn’t say—and their behavior, says Frank J. Sileo, PhD, a Ridgewood, NJ-based psychologist. “With kids, behavior can speak louder than words. Although most kids adapt to the changes brought on by divorce, seeing a psychologist can help the children and the family as a whole through this difficult transition.” Adds Dr. Sileo: “If you notice your child is exhibiting crying periods, depression, anxiety, decreased school performance, a decreased interests in activities, and is acting out at home or school via tantrums or emotional outbursts, you may want to seek professional help (both individual and family therapy) to alleviate the pain, process feelings and thoughts, open up communication, and help prevent future problems.”