Post-Divorce Plan for Back-to-School: Help Your Kids Navigate the Process
School has started back here in the greater Polk County area, and students everywhere are returning to their friends, their classrooms, and their daily school routines. For some students though, their routine looks drastically different than it did last year. For children whose parents finalized their divorce process over the summer, or separated and are no longer living under the same roof, life can feel uprooted and can cause significant anxiety, especially for younger students. If you have recently gone through a divorce or are currently enduring a separation, here are some ways you can help your student navigate the process and reduce anxiety and stress for everyone involved:
Raise Awareness. Don’t send your young student to school without giving teachers, counselors, coaches, etc. some background information about what’s been going on at home. Regardless of how peaceful/ heated the process was, divorce and separation can make a child feel very insecure, and that can present itself in a variety of behaviors that could cause problems at school if the adults in charge are not aware. If you get a chance to meet with teachers and other school leadership before the first day, this is a great time to gently let them know about any difficulties at home so they can be prepared to work with you as you help your child adjust to a new way of life. If not, consider sticking a small note in your child’s homework folder so their teacher will see it, or even put in a phone call to the teacher during after-school hours. He or she will likely appreciate the effort since their goal is to help your student be the best they can be.
Build a New Secure Environment. Chances are, life with both parents in the home is all your student has ever known. It’s tough when that is suddenly different, and it can make a child question what else will change, and what their days will look like. Do your best to build a sense of security by settling into a new routine quickly, and sticking to it. For example, if your ex was the one who handled bedtime, and now it’s your job, don’t constantly change the time and manner in which you do things. If possible, stick to their old routine as much as possible, but if you do have to make changes, verbally express what the plan will be, and then follow that same plan each night. This same concept should be used for morning routines before school as well. If your former spouse packed lunches and you can’t, build a new routine of making sure your child sees the school menu each day and is ready to purchase their lunch, or if you do have time to pack lunches, make it part of your routine and do it together. It might take some time, but building a new routine and having consistency will greatly reduce your child’s anxiety.
Prepare Them for Changes Ahead of Time. Be sure to let your child know about any schedule changes in advance, so they aren’t caught off guard and sent into a tailspin. Children who are adjusting to a significant life change (like the loss of a loved one, or a divorce situation) tend to be quite sensitive to unexpected tweaks in their day, and what might seem simple to you (like a babysitter picking them up front school instead of you) could cause a meltdown. If you know your daily routine will look different, such as having your ex pick them up after school on a day when you normally would, make sure you child knows this before they head into school that morning. Even older students appreciate being kept in the loop of what plans are in regards to their day.
We hope this helps make your school year as successful as possible as you adjust to a new way of life with your children. If you are facing a divorce, or currently in a separation and not sure what comes next, Sesame Law Group is ready to help you through the process. WE STAND FOR YOU when unexpected life changes come your way.