Healthdirect Free Australian health advice you can count on.

Medical problem? Call 1800 022 222. If you need urgent medical help, call triple zero immediately

healthdirect Australia is a free service where you can talk to a nurse or doctor who can help you know what to do.

beginning of content

How to support children coping with a family break-up, separation or divorce

1-minute read

Children may feel hurt, worried, confused or angry when their parents break up, separate or divorce. How well your child copes will depend on how you are coping with the change, how you behave towards your former partner, the child’s age and level of maturity, and whether he or she is easily upset or easy going.

Here are some tips for supporting children affected by separation or divorce:

  • Provide lots of reassurance - Make sure your kids know the break-up was not their fault and that you will always be their parents and love them just as much. Make time to talk and listen to them.
  • Be positive about the future - Tell them about future living arrangements and that good things will come out of the situation in the end.
  • Be consistent with routines, rituals and boundaries - Keeping these as consistent as possible can help your children cope with changes and feel secure.
  • Give them space - Let your children know it’s okay to talk to another trusted adult (teacher, aunt, grandparent) or to call the Kids Helpline on 1800 55 1800 anytime.
  • Make sure they know you still love them - Let them be free to love both parents and not have to choose.
  • Listen to them - Be sympathetic and don’t judge.
  • Make them the focus - When discussing parenting arrangements, think about what is best for the children rather than fair for you.

A helpful resource is What about the Children? published by Relationships Australia.

Learn more here about the development and quality assurance of healthdirect content.

Last reviewed: December 2018


Back To Top

Need more information?

These trusted information partners have more on this topic.

Top results

Dealing with divorce and custody | Families | ReachOut Australia

Coming to terms with a divorce and the fact that your family is changing is really tough, but there are things you can do to help clarify your feelings about whats happened.

Read more on ReachOut.com website

What about the Children? - Parenting Information Relationships Australia

This booklet covers issues that parents need to be aware of when considering their children's needs during the separation process.

Read more on Relationships Australia website

When your grandchildren’s parents divorce | Raising Children Network

If your grandchildren’s parents separate or divorce, you might be worried about the whole family. Any support you can give will help them adjust to the change.

Read more on raisingchildren.net.au website

Make separation or divorce easier on your teenager - ReachOut Parents

Helping teenagers through divorce is vital to minimise the impact that it has on their feelings. Read about making divorce easier on your child.

Read more on ReachOut.com website

Divorce | Protect your teen with Family Transitions TripleP tips - TripleP Positive Parenting Australia

Your divorce may impact on your teenager's behaviour & emotional state. Find out how to prevent long-term damage with this positive parenting course.

Read more on Triple P - Positive Parenting Program website

Relationship breakdown and divorce

A relationship breakdown and divorce can be a distressing time for everyone involved. Here are some coping strategies to help you and your child through it.

Read more on Pregnancy, Birth & Baby website

Helping your child through divorce

Most children, with the right support, will manage during a divorce or separation. Here are some tips to help your child through this challenging time.

Read more on Pregnancy, Birth & Baby website

Being a parent

Postnatal depression, single parenting, relationship breakdowns and divorce and losing your identity can be some of the difficulties faced by parents.

Read more on Pregnancy, Birth & Baby website

Talking to your teenager about separation - ReachOut Parents

Check out this infographic to learn about the different conversations you might come up against.

Read more on ReachOut.com website

Family breakups - supporting children - Better Health Channel

Separating parents can help children by giving them honest explanations and emotional support.

Read more on Better Health Channel website

Healthdirect 24hr 7 days a week hotline

24 hour health advice you can count on

1800 022 222

Government Accredited with over 140 information partners

We are a government-funded service, providing quality, approved health information and advice

Australian Government, health department logo ACT Government logo New South Wales government, health department logo Northen Territory Government logo Government of South Australia, health department logo Tasmanian government logo Government of Western Australia, health department logo