Divorce is inevitably difficult for children no matter how much parents try to protect them. All kids handle it differently. Therapy is an especially good idea for kids when divorce brings dramatic changes to their lives. If you decide that counseling is right for your kids, follow these tips to best support them throughout the therapeutic process.
Be Clear About Your Goals for Therapy
Sometimes kids can get confused about why they are going to therapy. Talk to your children about why you feel counseling is important. Set realistic expectations. No therapist can magically “fix” problematic behaviors in one session, but progress can be made over time. Encourage children to go to sessions with an open mind.
Let kids know the importance of being honest and cooperative in counseling sessions. Therapy can help kids address the underlying issues that cause children to act out. Kids can learn a great deal about themselves and their own motivations. These sessions can also help them feel a greater sense of control over their actions. Therapy is also significant because it can help children better cope with the stress of the divorce.
Encourage Your Kids to Artistically Express Their Feelings at Home
Your kids’ counselor may help them better express their feelings. Encourage them to continue to do so at home. You may actively encourage the expression of feelings in a variety of ways. Consider the following activities:
- Teach your kids the basics of writing poetry. Make it a fun thing. When children share their poetry with you, be encouraging and offer only positive reinforcement. Poetry can be a powerful way for kids to express how they are feeling in a safe way.
- Create a “jar of feelings.” Save several glass jars; jars that were used to hold jam or condiments work well for this project. Set aside one jar for each child. Provide your kids with a lot of small pieces of paper. Instruct your children to use one of the pieces of paper to write a sentence about how they are feeling any time they feel a strong emotion. Next, instruct them to place all the pieces of paper into the jar. Over time, children can look back and see a tapestry of emotions and how they are beneficial in different areas of their lives.
- Encourage your kids to write letters expressing their feelings about the divorce. These letters can be to you, your ex or their siblings. Let children know that they can choose to throw away the letters without sending them. The point is simply to allow kids to get out all the unexpressed feelings they have during the divorce.
Simply talking to your children about feelings and providing a safe, non-judgmental place for them to express those feelings can support what they learn in therapy.
Be an Enthusiastic Cheerleader
One of the most important things you can do to support your kids’ therapy journey is simply offering encouragement. Let your children know how proud you are of them and their dedication to going to their counseling sessions. Kids will revel in the positive attention, and that will help your children feel proud of themselves for sticking with therapy.
Some ways that you can encourage your children and cheer them on include:
- Be specific with your praise. Talk to your kids about how therapy can be beneficial and why you are so happy that they go to their appointments each week.
- Do something to mark the start of therapy. You may take your children to the park or otherwise plan a celebratory outing to let your kids know that starting therapy is a positive choice.
- Praise your children every step of the way. Although going to therapy is the goal, you also want to praise improvements that your kids make. For example, if therapy is helping your kids with a behavioral issue, heap praise on them when they make progress. No progress is too small to praise.
- Place an emphasis on the process, not results. While your kids may set therapy goals with their counselor, that’s not always the case.
- Celebrate the effort your children show. What matters is the commitment your kids have to go to therapy on a regular basis. Praise their efforts and things that are within their control.
Finally, taking your children to a therapist on a consistent, weekly basis is one of the best ways to ensure that your kids stay healthy and happy throughout the divorce. Supporting their counseling sessions and helping them adjust to the changes of the divorce can also empower them.
Therapy is a great tool to help kids get through the divorce while continuing to thrive. If you are looking for a therapy center for you or your children, the caring staff and therapists at NeuroHealth Arlington Heights provides psychological assessment and treatment of kids and adults.