When children receive the difficult news that their parents are planning to divorce, they can experience a whirlwind of emotions, some of which might be entirely foreign to them. Indeed, it's common for children in these situations to experience everything from anger and guilt to shame and anxiety.
Fortunately, we've made remarkable strides from a psychological perspective over the years, such that many divorcing parents not only understand how and why their children might be experiencing these emotions, but are also actively taking steps to address them and help ease the transition to a new family dynamic.
While you might think this entails regular trips to the office of a family therapist, which can indeed prove to be very helpful, it can also be accomplished by simpler means.
Take for instance, the proliferation of online programs designed to speak to the unique issues facing prospective children of divorce.
One such program called "Children of Divorce - Coping with Divorce," the brainchild of an Arizona State University alumnus with a doctorate in clinical psychology, is specifically structured to teach coping skills to children between the ages of 11 to 16.
It accomplishes this via five modules -- problem solving, feelings and divorce, inside tools, tools for communication, and integrating program skills -- all of which utilize techniques that speak to children within this age range, including videos, narrations and interactive activities.
"Kids acquire a sense, 'I can handle the problems in my life,'" said one professor at ASU's REACH Institute of the program. "That's very important, and that translates to [fewer] mental-health problems and a greater sense of efficacy they can move on with."
For those who may doubt the efficacy of these types of programs, consider that clinical trials undertaken back in 2009 determined that one out of every eleven kids who went through this program avoided some sort of mental health issue.
It's truly encouraging to see both parents and mental health professionals alike making such great progress in helping children accept and adjust to both the changes and challenges of divorce.
Are you a divorced parent? Did you utilize any of these types of techniques to help your kids adjust to new custody arrangements? If so, what were they?