Category: <span>Children Therapy</span>

Child in divorce therapy

How to Help Your Kids Through a Divorce

While trends since the early 2000s suggest that divorce rates in the U.S. are falling, there are still roughly 750,000 divorces a year in the country. With just under 2 children on average per family, about 1.5 million children per year experience their parents going through a divorce or separation.

Divorce has many negative effects on children, as this marks a difficult time in their lives that they may not be equipped to process. Cognitive Behavioral Health offers the following advice to parents to help their children adapt:

The Effects of Divorce on Children

Because divorce signifies a massive change for the child, and because parents going through a divorce are also undergoing emotional turmoil, negative behaviors can manifest in children:

  • feelings of guilt
  • anxiety or depression
  • poor academic performance
  • resentment towards one or both parents
  • social withdrawal
  • no longer participating in activities they used to enjoy

Children of divorce are also more likely to engage in risky behaviors like alcohol and substance abuse.

children in divorce situation

What Can A Parent Do?

Co-parent

If possible, arrange to co-parent. Make sure that your interactions with your spouse are not hostile, as kids can recognize signs of hostility and this can increase their distress. Co-parenting also shows the children that their parents are still willing to communicate and work together to establish a new family structure.

Try to maintain continuity and stability where possible

It’s important to remember that children thrive on routines. One of the reasons divorce affects many kids so keenly is the massive disruption to their every day lives. Putting in effort to restore stability can help them to cope.

If you have a regular activity with the kids for example (play dates, game nights, etc.) try to make sure these still happen. This assures them that not everything is going to change, and there are still some things they can rely on.

Don’t put the children in the middle of your conflict

Behavior that shows hostility to the spouse, whether overtly or not, can still cause anxiety for your children. This includes:

  • telling them negative things about your spouse
  • asking them to choose or compare parents
  • having them relay messages between parents

Putting the kids in the middle can make them feel like participants of the divorce, which can have a negative impact on their mental and emotional well-being.

Communicate

Many parents try to hide details of the divorce, believing this will shield the children from the impact. Doing this, however, can have the opposite effect: if kids are not told the truth about what’s going on, they will look for answers themselves. Failing that, they can start creating their own answers, and then factors like guilt and unfounded resentment come into play.

Telling them about what is happening (living arrangements, schedules, etc) and also talking to them about their feelings and yours can help bring the family members closer together and let you depend on each other for emotional support.

Be mindful, however, of the information you’re about to share, and make sure it’s information that your kids are able to handle. The nature of the marital conflict (especially affairs, abuse, etc.) may not be age-appropriate.

If the information will not aid them in understanding or coping with the separation, then you don’t have to share it with them.

Get Professional Help

Having the family talk to a professional can help family members sort through their emotions and learn to cope and communicate better. Family therapy will give you and your children the tools you need to express yourselves, manage conflict, and provides a safe space to connect with each other and work out conflicts.

In an emotionally-charged home environment both during and after a divorce, these skills will be valuable to ensure the mental and emotional development of everyone in the family.

The Center of Cognitive Behavioral Health offers family counseling in Westport, CT to provide families that have experienced a divorce a way to gain a deeper understanding of each other. Find out more about how we can help on our family psychotherapy page.

An Anxious Child

Words and Actions to Calm an Anxious Child

Anxiety is a common mental disorder in the United States, and it affects even children. According to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIH), this disorder persists among 25.1% of children ages 13-18 years old. The Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA) adds that symptoms could appear as early as 7 years old. These numbers mean that one in four children show signs of anxiety and bear the possibility of carrying the disorder towards adolescence.

The Center for Cognitive and Behavioral Health understands how anxiety can have a huge impact on a person’s life. This can affect their ability to function in an everyday setting, such as in public places, at the workplace, in school, or in social gatherings. Our psychiatrists in Westport, Connecticut help children learn to manage their anxiety so that in the future, they may lead a balanced and happy life.

How do Children Manifest Anxiety?

Anxiety is a form of stress that stems from the worry or fear that something is about to go wrong. It’s easy to see why young children are prone to it. As they begin to explore the world outside of their home, they may encounter people, things, places, and circumstances that are unfamiliar and threatening to their young minds.

What to Do and What to Say

If you have an anxious child who suffers from mild to severe panic attacks, what you need to do is help him or her manage their fear. You can do and say the following:

  • “Can you draw me a picture of it?” This gives your child an outlet and helps him make sense of their fear. Turning their fear into a character demystifies it, which helps to reduce anxiety.
  • “Imagine that we’re blowing a balloon.” Sit with your child and encourage them to take deep breaths. Doing this together emphasizes your support without enabling the fear.
  • “Let’s pretend you’re a superhero.” Encourage your child to face his or her fears; and that, like their favorite superhero, they are stronger and can conquer those fears.
  • “Say, I am strong! I am brave!” Teach your child to say a self-encouraging chant when he feels afraid.
  • “It’s okay to worry.” According to psychologists, removing a trigger reinforces a child’s fear. The best way to approach anxiety is to teach children to acknowledge it. Tell your child it’s okay to worry for 10 minutes; but after the time is up, he can put this “character” in a box or a room and set it aside for the meantime.

Dealing with anxious kids is a delicate matter that we can help you with. At The Center for Cognitive and Behavioral Health, we help not just the children but their parents and guardians as well.

Contact us and learn more about our treatment program.

therapy for childrens

Help your child find new friends

Anxiety is something that exists in everyone’s life to a certain extent, and in a way it is medically known to be helpful as well. Because, anxiety helps us stay alert and be reactive to our circumstances, whether joyful or painful. However, when the anxiety reaches the stage where it overwhelms you mentally and physically, and affects your normal routine of life, you need the help of a clinical psychologist.

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family therapy

Ways to help your children develop self-esteem and confidence

Self-esteem and confidence are major traits in individuals that affect their success. While these are a lifelong process, the foundation of it needs to be established in early childhood. Building self-esteem will allow the child to deal with difficult situations that they will encounter during their lifetime. Since parents have the greatest influence on a child’s belief, it is important for them to let their child know where they belong, how well they are doing and contribute towards developing confidence and self-esteem.

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