Sunday, November 20, 2016

Tips on How to Help a Child Cope With Parental Separation

The specific example situation here is where there are two children in a family and the parents have separated. The kids are Jack a boy of 8 and Kate a girl of 5. Jack is acting up and Kate is copying Jack's behaviours. This advice is for the mother who is raising the kids. In particular it is geared towards helping Jack. The suggestions are generic and must be adapted depending on his personality and the particular issues that arise.


The overall aim is for the mother to help Jack manage his emotional turmoil.

This is best achieved by the following:

  • Giving him the language to express what is going on for him.
  • Allowing him to express it, in a constructive way.
  • Managing the spill over onto the other child.
  • Nurturing the continued development of his self esteem.

One of the first things to do is to  inform the school that the parents have separated. Ask his teacher to send a note home if he behaves in an inappropriate way. (This means that the mother can deal with it in a timely manner). However, it is not unusual for children at this stage to be well behaved in school and not at home.

Strategies to achieve the above aims:


Giving him the language to express what is going on for him:


Talk to him when the “iron is cold” when he is not acting out. He is more likely to take in what you say then, than in the middle of a row.

Use these types of statements:

“Jack I know you are angry that Mum and Dad are no longer together, however, we still love you and are always here for you”.

“Jack, I have the feeling that you are unhappy, is that true? How can I help you? “I want to make it better for you”.

“If you can tell me what is going on inside your head, then I can do my best to help you, however I can’t read your mind”.

“Just because Mum and Dad are not together it does not mean that we love you less”.