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How can I help my kids address their emotions during a divorce?

Children often have complex emotions when they find out that their parents are going to divorce. It's often tough for them to express themselves, especially when they are younger. Finding ways to help them express their feelings can be challenging because you might not know exactly what they are thinking.

One way that you might be able to help your younger children is to ask them to describe what they are feeling using simple terms. Talk to them in an age-appropriate manner your own feelings. This gives them the language they need to express their emotions and some examples of what it means to feel that way. Sometimes, parents can use books or television shows to help their children identify and describe various emotions.

Older children might benefit from heart-to-heart talks. You may have to let them know that you want them to be open and that you aren't going to hold their statements against them. Still, you need to set the standard for respect. You have to let them know that they must reveal their thoughts appropriately.

Even when you ask children to be open and honest, they might still hold things in. You might be able to alleviate some of their concerns by reminding them that they aren't responsible for the divorce. They shouldn't have to shoulder any of the burden from the split. You should also make sure that you communicate directly with your ex. When children are asked to be their parents' messengers, they often feel very stressed and have trouble coping with that role. Make sure the parenting plan has terms set for communication to take the guesswork out of it.

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