Relationships Quick Answers
My child does not like to be alone and has always had a tough time with separations. After divorce this problem with separations has intensified. What can I do to help my child with separations?
It is common for children to have increased separation anxiety following a divorce. The following are some things you and your child’s other parent can to do make transitions easier for your child:
- Provide lots of reassurance before and after transitions.
- Allow extra time before and after transitions. Some children need “down time” after transitions between homes.
- Create transition rituals. Choose an activity to do before and/or after transitions. It can be very simple. The key is that it is something pleasurable that is repeated over and over, so the child begins to associate more positive feelings with the separation. One example is to write a nice note for the child to take with him or her to read while at the other parent’s house.
- Allow your child to take comforting objects, such as a favorite toy, when spending time away from parents.
- In general, children often feel less anxious if both parents maintain similar, regular routines.
Kim Leon, Ph.D., Former Assistant Professor and State Specialist, Human Development & Family Studies, Human Environmental Sciences, University of Missouri Extension
Alison Levitch, Human Development & Family Studies Graduate Student, Human Environmental Sciences, University of Missouri Extension
Last update: Friday, August 22, 2008