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