Helping your child cope when a relationship breaks down

Mental Health Blog / Saturday, December 22nd, 2018

When a relationship breaks down it can be hard on everyone, but it becomes more challenging when children are involved.  As a parent, you face dealing with your own emotional issues and change in circumstances as well as helping your child feel safe and loved in a period of change.

Finding your own support network when going through a separation or divorces is equally as important as helping your child adjust.  Take care of yourself and find a safe way to work through your own emotions or issues.  Family members and friends often pick ‘sides’ in a break-up which can make it difficult to discuss issues effecting you.  A therapist or counsellor can give you the impartial space you need to process the change in your life.

When a relationship ends, children can feel angry, scared, confused, worried, sad, or abandoned.  They may also experience a change in sleeping patterns or eating habits, become clingy, act out or become withdrawn.  Older children and teenagers might find it beneficial to talk to talk about their feelings with a therapist or impartial adult to make sense of the new changes in their lives.

How well your child copes with a separation or divorce depends on the level of hostility between parents and how you and your ex-partner adjust to the break-up.

Here are some tips on helping your child transition easier through a break-up:

  • Keep life as routine as possible. As much as possible, try to follow the schedule you had before the break-up.
  • Communicate clearly what’s going on and be a good listener for your children.
  • Be civilised with your ex-partner, particularly in front of your children. If this is not possible, seek outside help.
  • Don’t over compensate with new toys, gifts or gadgets. Children need to feel safe and secure: reassure with good communication and love, not more ‘stuff’.
  • Accept that it will take time for children to adjust to a new way of living. It’s a big change and it’s perfectly normal for them to grieve the loss of your relationship.
  • Don’t burden children with your problems.

The end of a relationship is an extremely stressful time.  If you feel you could cope better with your relationship break-up through counselling either for yourself or your teenager, please get in touch. 

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