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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.

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Last reviewed: December 2018

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