During this time of social isolation and anxiety, children experiencing their parent’s divorce have an added level of stress.
Collaborative Coach JoAnn Rodrigues, LMFT, along with colleagues John Osborne, LCSW and Chandler Hoffman, PhD., want to share some insight and suggestions to parents that can help their children manage emotionally. Please note that the following information does not replace therapy if needed.
The young child can benefit by giving them opportunity for unstructured play.
Simple but effective items include bubbles, balloons, play dough/clay, and other art materials. These items are fun; they encourage creativity and an outlet for emotions. Face Time or Skype with relatives or friends provide a visual connection. Sharing activities such as cooking, online classes and even things like a backyard scavenger hunt can provide a shared fun experience.
The middle school aged child is developmentally programmed to push against too much management.
Allowing them some autonomy, within loving guide rails, provides them the ability to make some choices. Choice allows this age group to find their inner courage, creativity and confidence. The need for more peer connection is true both for this age group and teenagers/young adults. Although this may mean more online time, again with loving guidelines, it can allow for much needed socializing. On the positive side, they are in a position where they have to learn additional skills to have connectivity with both peers and the adults in their life. This form of emotional intelligence can result in increased verbal skills. They now have the time for longer conversations, where they can ask questions and listen.
The ability to have balance with play and connection during times of stress is an important skill for these children. The creativity, skill building and gratitude that comes with positive activities and social connection can help them weather this stressful time.