Jun 18

6 Ways to Help Children Cope with Family Changes

Written by: Megan Dell

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In many ways, the South Carolina Family Court is responsible for legally changing the shapes of families.  After a divorce, a family may be divided into two households, but an adoption may make a family complete under one roof.  Today, a variety of types of families exist, and transitions between them occur.

In South Carolina, children’s participation in the legal process is usually very limited, despite the Family Court’s decisions having wide-ranging impacts for their lives.  Helping children cope with changes to their family structure can be challenging, but it is an important for their adjustment and teaching them to be resilient.

Here are some useful tips for helping children cope with these kinds of changes:

1. Give advanced warning

Use age-appropriate terms to explain the changes that can be expected, and ask children for input when you can.  For example, when explaining that a family will begin living in two different households, a parent could ask the child how he wants to decorate his room in the new house.  Reading your child books about the upcoming change can help start these conversations.  Check out our list of book suggestions here.

2. Maintain as much consistency as possible

Changes are easier to manage when they do not all occur at once.  When making big changes, such as adopting another child, keep other parts of your children’s lives the same.

3. Answer children’s questions with positivity

Depending on a child’s age, she may ask a lot of questions about what will be changing.  Do your best to answer them all in a way that focuses on the positive aspects of the change, even if she asks the same question many times.

4. Accept children’s need to grieve

Most people do not enjoy change because it is uncomfortable, and that is true for children too!  Anticipate that your child may grieve the way his life used to be, and be prepared to listen and remind him of the positive aspects of your family’s new normal.

5. Expect some regression in children’s behavior

During times of change, children’s behavior may regress, and they may resume behaviors they previously grew out of.  It’s important to be patient with these regressions, as a children will take their cues from you.

6. Spend extra time with them

During times of change, a little extra attention can be a tremendous help for children dealing with stress.  Give your child a little more undivided attention, and use that time to engage in activities she chooses.  Extra attention and patience from you demonstrates that, despite big changes in life, your love for your child remains constant.

If you are struggling with how to manage changes in your family caused by your South Carolina Family Court case, contact Dell Family Law to schedule a consultation so we can help.