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Six to eight, often described as the "magical age," is when your child enters a phase of self-discovery. Divorce, at this stage, impacts a child in powerful ways.

Part Three of our firstwivesworld exclusive series — Your Child is Not a Statistic — will help you not only explain the divorce to kids from six to eight, but understand how they might deal with the news.

The way talk of classmates and playground pals pepper your child's every conversation, it is clear that his world is no longer dominated by you — his parents. School life and peer groups have become a major preoccupation. And at this point, she is truly a social being. She cares deeply about fitting in, craves friendships and wants to be liked. On the other hand, six- to eight-year-olds still define their self-image through their parents.

Divorce usually brings on overwhelming sadness for kids at this age. But they are learning — for the first time in their lives — how to disguise and deflect their true feelings. You may see signs of displaced anger, such as lashing out at a sibling or friend. And very often, children at this age may even seem to carry on as though nothing at all is bothering them.

If your child's response to the divorce seems "too good to be true," rest assured; it is. Be on the look out for signs of:

  • Withdrawal
  • Depression
  • Denial

A six- to eight-year-old is often consumed with guilt when his parents divorce and holds fast to the notion that you two will get back together. When you talk about the divorce, make sure your child understands:

  • Nothing she did, said or felt caused the divorce.
  • It's okay to wish your mother/father and I will reunite, but it won't happen; we really tried, but it can't work.
  • He'll see both of you.
  • Many kids' parents get divorced.
  • You understand the changes he is going through.
  • It's okay to feel sad.

Here are some ways you might talk about your divorce with a six- to eight-year-old:

What is Divorce?

"Divorce is a grown up thing that mommies and daddies do when they are very sad and cannot make things happier together anymore. It means that we will no longer be married to each other but we will always be your parents."

Why did it happen?

Some answers to consider:

"We didn't listen to each other enough. You know how sometimes you want to say something so much you don't even hear what the other person is saying? That's how your mother/father and I got to be. We cared more about what we wanted to say and not enough about what the other person was saying."

"We didn't take the time to think, ‘How will he/she feel about this?' before we said or did something that hurt him/her or made him/her angry. That was very unfair."

"We fought too much and didn't learn how to talk to each other about our feelings without being angry and hurting each other."

"We didn't know how to stop fighting and walk away from a fight."

Will we still be a family?

"Yes. Even though Mommy and Daddy are getting a divorce you will always be part of us. We both still love you and always will. You and Mommy/Daddy and you and I will always be families. But Mommy and Daddy will not be in a family together even though we both belong to you.

What will happen to me?

"You will be able to see both me and your mother/father a lot." Then spell out custody and visitation arrangements as clearly and in as much detail as you can.

 

Related Content:

Click the following for tips on How To Explain Divorce to Your Preschooler.

Click the following for tips on Explaining Divorce To Your Teen.

Click the following to return a directory of articles and resource videos on Kids & Family and Divorce.

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6 comments

  • Comment Link A. Mercuri Thursday, 30 March 2017 20:47 posted by A. Mercuri

    MY grand daughter is 6 and last night was upset with her mom because she did not want to do her homework. She yelled out that her mothers name was Dani M. J. not just Dani M. A year a go her name was changed to her mothers name by her mother.My x son in law has not seen her for the past 5 years.He has 3 children with the women that he left his wife for.and did not look back. How can we help my grand daughter and the pain she has. Thank you for your time.
    A. Mercuri

  • Comment Link Naledi Rooibaadjie Wednesday, 10 August 2016 10:46 posted by Naledi Rooibaadjie

    I am currently going through a very difficult divorce , I was abused , and he is still doing it by nothe allowing me to see my lids , the court is on his side as I am unemployed , and left the house leaving the kids behind , because I could not handle the abuse anymore , I am not educated and possess vert little knowledge , and I am also at the back foot , cause I don't have money

  • Comment Link Mrs. Annie Wednesday, 02 December 2015 04:27 posted by Mrs. Annie

    My granddoll and this little girl Tiana inspired me to write this children's picture story book. http://www.amazon.com/dp/B018II0TAG "Divorce Through the Eyes of a Child;Dear Mama and Dad"

  • Comment Link Gigi Saturday, 21 February 2015 13:57 posted by Gigi

    Read this you are doing everything right

  • Comment Link Guest Tuesday, 05 July 2011 16:58 posted by Guest

    Newly Separated: Hi I am newly separated. I have a 4 yr old and a 8 yr old. We have been separated for 2 and half months. I am starting to become concerned about my daughter because she is sad and not sharing her feelings. I have tried talking to her about it but she says if she thinks about it she gets really upset. I want her to adjust as well as she can through this difficult time.

    I have reinforced, it's not her fault, Daddy and I fought so much we are a better mom and dad if we live a part and I told her she can always talk to me without me getting mad or upset. She is just shut down. I was thinking on trying to do things "as a family" with the ex to help her come to terms that we really are still a family even though we live at different homes. My ex sees the kids twice a week for overnights and every other weekend.

    Any advise on how to approach my daughter to help her emotionally adjust to this?

  • Comment Link Guest Friday, 20 May 2011 09:37 posted by Guest

    my daughter: It has been couple of years since my divorce. . My ex-husband was always there for my daughter, but it seems to me that the more she sees him the more she wants him back. She always made her feelings clear that she dreams to live together. I always tell her, that he lives near and she can see him everyday if she wants, but that does not seem to satisfy her answer. Also I can not talk about this a lot with her, because I feel pain and he was the one who left me and I guess I was the one I drove him away, without intention. Now that she is 6-yeras old, she asks me more and the things that she says really bother me.... she would say, i had a dream that the three of were sleeping together or I think he will be back... how to talk with her, how to make her feel ok about this whole thing.