Uncertainty during divorce is difficult for children. Fortunately, parents can employ strategies to reduce their children’s uncertainty-related stress.
Why Is Uncertainty Difficult for Children?
Uncertainty causes stress. Studies show that people feel more stressed about the possibility of something bad happening than when they know something bad is going to happen. This stress arises for both adults and children. However, uncertainty can be especially difficult for children because the related stress can manifest itself in many ways that children haven’t yet learned to recognize.
With intermittent school closings and quarantines, children are dealing with more uncertainty than ever during the COVID-19 pandemic. If a child’s parents are also divorcing, the level of uncertainty is even higher. Fortunately, parents can reduce their children’s stress levels by helping them feel more in control.
What Helps Children Deal with Uncertainty?
Parents can employ several strategies to help their children deal with uncertainty. Steps that can help children feel more in control include:
- Discussing how to recognize feelings of uncertainty
- Providing honest, age-appropriate information
- Establishing a consistent and predictable routine
- Finding stress-relieving activities to enjoy together
Discussing How to Recognize Feelings of Uncertainty
Stress caused by uncertainty can manifest itself in many ways. Children should understand that uncertainty may feel like irritability for them but feel like trouble sleeping for another child. Parents can help their children feel more in control by helping them identify and understand their feelings.
Provide Honest, Age-Appropriate Information
Parents should be open and honest with their children but be careful to only provide as much detail as is appropriate for their children’s ages. While parents may want to lie to protect their children, lies often do more harm than good. However, parents need to carefully consider the potential impact that sharing certain information could have on the child’s relationship with the other parent before providing the information to the children.
Establishing a Consistent and Predictable Routine
Parents can battle uncertainty by providing a consistent routine for their children. An established routine gives children a sense of stability and can help them focus on what they can control. Children may also feel like they have more control if they can choose dinner or which game to play for family game night.
Finding Stress Relieving Activities
Parents can introduce their children to stress-relieving activities such as yoga or hiking. These activities will provide children with healthy coping mechanisms for stress. Parents and children can also enjoy these activities together, giving them valuable bonding time.
Although divorce causes uncertainty for children, parents can make a plan to support their children with the help of a divorce lawyer.