When two parents decide to separate it can be earth-shattering for the kids involved. As a result, kids might feel angry, sad, lonely, or confused. As parents, it can be hard to help kids understand what is going on and why. One strategy I find helpful as a therapist is to use books to help young and elementary-aged children talk about the difficult topics surrounding divorce.
Topic: It’s Not Your Fault
Many kids blame themselves for their parent’s divorce. As a result, they might feel more on edge and struggle to enjoy time with one or both parents. To tackle this misperception, consider reading a book like, “Was It The Chocolate Pudding?”
Written for kids ages 3-7, this book can support or help you and your partner initiate conversations with your child(ren) about divorce. The young boy in this book thinks his parents divorced because of the mess he and his brother made with chocolate pudding. As he begins to understand his feelings and some of the changes that happened when his parents divorced, the reader is clued into words and emotions that come up when divorce happens. Another wonderful feature of this book is a “Note to Parents” from Dr. Jane Annunziata, a psychotherapist specialized in supporting parents in divorce situations. In her note, she speaks about the emotions of small children when divorce happens including, Explaining Separation and Divorce to Children, Helping Your Child Cope, and On Healing and Recovery.
Suggested activity: I Love you Snacks
After reading this book with your kids, make an “I love you snack” together.
I Love You Chocolate Pudding Flower Cups
1 package of instant pudding.
2 cups milk or milk alternative
1 cup cookie or graham cracker crumbs
4 flowers on stems or lollipops or other stemmed item
- Make pudding according to instructions on box using the 2 cups
- Divide pudding into 4 small dishes.
- Layer each pot with additional ingredients in order. As you and your child(ren)add each new ingredient name how it adds love to your pudding flower cup. For example, you might say, “We are going to make an I Love You Pudding Cup Today. Each time we add a new ingredient, let’s name the love you need in your pudding cup today.” You might start the process by labeling the pudding itself as a big pudding hug. The crumbs might be kisses crumbs, the flower might be a playful flower and the sprinkles could be laughter sprinkles.
Of course sometimes love looks a little different and it requires us to witness crashing crumbs, prickly flowers and sprinkles of tears, just so we can get them out in the open and talk about them. No matter what type of love goes into your flower pots, provide space for your kid(s) talk and ask any questions they have about your divorce/separation while you eat your yummy snack together.
If your child is struggling to work through a recent divorce or separation, it is also important to know when to get help. You do not have to support them alone. Counseling can be a great way to help your child cope with big feelings that divorce and separation bring up. We are here to help. Contact Ellie Today!