We presume that children have a full grasp on their emotions. We presume wrong. Children need help identifying with their different emotions. We know that baby’s cry when they hungry, understanding only that they are in pain/discomfort. Kids similarly have a disconnect with how to handle the emotional consequences of a divorce. So lets come up with a list of different ways we can do this:
a. Pair up: Have your kids make as many faces as they can – have them identify each emotion. If your child doesn’t have a partner – use a mirror!
b. Silly Dance: If your child is feeling down – teach them something to do and be silly – turn that frown upside down (this still works for me!)
c. Create a situation to talk through: What would happen if the neighbor’s dog went missing (For example) : ask your kids to explain how the neighbor kids must be feeling.
d. If your kids felt that they caused the divorce : have them list how they did it – go through their list (our book – Mommy Daddy Troubles is excellent for helping kids understand that they are not at fault).
e. Things You Can Do list: Have your kids list the things they can still do after divorce (help them from feeling helpless).
f. Empower your child – set goals. The best way to channel negative feelings your child is feeling is to create goals. Find stories on kids that made a difference and are in the news because of it. See if a “goal oriented approach” is the right way to channel your children’s negative emotions and give them a sense of purpose
The most important thing is to realize we are in this together for our kids. Tell us your idea’s and how we can create effective tools for kids to cope with their feelings.. Think Kids First, Parents Second.