There’s no doubt that divorce is one of the most stressful events a person can experience. Finding ways to reduce your stress level is not only healthy for you but also your children, as well. Studies have found that parental stress can lead to behavioral issues in their children.
Even if you think you’re hiding your stress and other emotions from your children, they’re likely picking up on more than you realize. Going into another room to cry, have a few drinks or vent to a friend on the phone probably isn’t doing as much to shield them as you think.
You can tell when someone you’re close to is upset about something, even if they don’t say anything. Your kids can pick up on nonverbal cues from their parents as well. Much of how they feel about the divorce is determined by how they see their parents dealing with it.
Even if a child is trying to hide their fear and anxiety, they can manifest in a number of ways that it’s important to watch for. This can include sleep issues, stomachaches, headaches, crying, becoming clingy, problems in school and lashing out at siblings, pets, friends or you.
One way to help ease your child’s stress it to talk to them about how they’re feeling. Encourage them to share their fears, uncertainties or anger. Some kids open up more easily than others. If your child isn’t quick to share, you might consider just playing a game, watching a movie or going for a walk with them and let the conversation happen naturally. Even though your free time may be limited, taking time to do something fun with your child can help them relax and see that some things haven’t changed.
You might need to get your own stress under control first. Whether this means taking some time for yourself or spending time away from home with friends, it’s wise to clear your head and get some perspective. As you start feeling more positive, relaxed and in control, you’ll probably see a difference in your child as well.
Often, seeing a family therapist or other mental health professional can help parents and/or their children during and after divorce. Your family law attorney can likely provide some recommendations of professionals in your area. When you’re not overwhelmed with stress, you’re better able to make good decisions at this crucial time.