08 Oct How Play Therapy Can Help Your Children Through Divorce

Trudy Jacobsen

Divorce can be a particularly difficult time for any family, and a child’s reaction can vary depending on age, personality and circumstances of the separation. The prospect of mum and dad separating is often challenging for children and can elicit feelings of sadness, confusion, anger and sometimes, guilt, shame and responsibility.

While it is very normal to grieve the breakup of a family, there are many ways in which parents can help children cope with the change:

  1. Protect your children from parental conflict and avoid blaming or talking negative of the other parent.
  2. Humans are creatures of comfort and change can be daunting; try to maintain existing routines.
  3. Acknowledge that some things will be different, and discuss these changes with your child.  
  4. While we recognise that this time can be difficult for parents, and in the midst of things we can forget to make time for each other; spending quality time with your children is a must! Letting them know that your love towards them has not changed can be a very powerful message.
  5. Understanding and expressing emotions can be difficult for everyone, especially children. Kids can sometimes express difficult emotions through bad behaviour. Avoid the urge to punish them – try and incorporate this PACE model when communicating with your kids.

Playfulness – Children express through play, have an air of lightness when talking with your children.

Acceptance – Understand that everybody’s experience will be different and all are equally valid. Let them know that their experience is not good or bad,  right or wrong.

Curiosity – Ask questions to understand why your child might be acting this way.

Empathy – We all know what it feels like to be sad or angry, let your child know that you know how it feels and that you love them and you’ll always be there for them when they need you.

  • And don’t forget about you! You cannot pour from an empty cup. If you feel like you are running on empty take some time to look after yourself. You will be a better parent to your child if you are feeling good.

What is play therapy?

If your child is struggling to cope with the divorce, research suggests that play therapy is an effective way to equip children with the tools they need to resolve emotions and cope with change. Play is the natural way that children learn about themselves, their relationships and the world around them. Harnessing the power of play is effective in building confidence, emotional intelligence and resilience.

If you feel that play therapy would be suitable for you child and you would like to book an appointment please call (07) 3282 5453