It is almost back to school time! Are you excited or worried? Both feelings are completely normal. Whether your kids are starting back up in August or September, it is never too early to start preparing. Follow these five tips for a smooth start to the new school year:
1. Tell Teachers About the Divorce
If you are newly divorced, your child may still be coping with the changes. Children spend an average of 35 hours in school per week. That is a lot of time that you are away from your child and may not notice behavior changes. Warn teachers about a recent divorce so they know to keep an eye on your child and their behaviors.
2. Plan with Your Children How to Answer Questions from Their Peers
Your child’s schoolmates may be curious and ask your child questions about your separation. Prepare your child ahead of time for this situation and teach them ways that they can politely deflect any questions that they do not feel comfortable answering.
3. Reassure Your Children That They Will Still See Old Friends and Their Other Parent
One of children’s biggest worries during a divorce or move is that they will not be able to see their friends anymore. It is important that you reassure your children that they will in fact see their friends again. You should also reassure them that it is okay to miss their other parent and that they will still be able to spend quality time with them.
4. Allow Your Child to Feel Emotions Such as Loss
Divorce is hard on your children too. Studies show it takes about one year for a child to come to terms with their parent’s divorce. Make sure that your child knows you are there for them and that you are always open to talk about their feelings. Unless you are noticing severe behavior problems, allow your child at least six months to adjust on their own without stepping in.
5. Seek Professional Help if Necessary
If your child’s mental health is declining, you need to seek professional help. Warning signs your child is not coping well include:
- Decline of school grades.
- Losing friends or suddenly hanging out with a new group of troubled kids.
- Displaying substantial changes in behavior such as intense anger, lying, cheating, or stealing.
- Loss of sleep, eating disorders, unexplained headaches, or substance abuse.