There are many variables that affect how separation and divorce in a family affect children in the classroom depending on the age and temperament of the child and how long the divorcing process has been going on.
Hopefully the parents have informed the teacher early on so that the teacher is sensitive to the child’s reactions .
There is no reason for problems in the school environment if several suggestions are kept in mind.
7 Tips on Helping Kids with Divorcing Parents
1. Parents separately and together meet with the teacher and school psychologist or social worker so they become aware of the changes in the home. The child might make a connection with the social worker or psychologist to talk with when needed.
2. It’s helpful if custody arrangements are explained so the teacher knows if the child is coming to school from different homes different days of the week.
3. The teacher can talk with the child alone to share her understanding that the child is going through a difficult time and that she is there to help him or her adjust to changes in schedules before and after school It’s helpful for the teacher to spend extra time together with the child as needed just to listen.
4. The teacher can be mindful if this is a child who wants to open up or likes to know comfort is near but doesn’t really want to speak.
5. Many schools have groups for children going through divorce which is suitable and helpful for children who like to talk or just listen in groups.
6. It’s important for the child to know he or she is not alone—that divorce is common and other children in the class or school are going through these changes, too. This is nothing to be ashamed of.
7. It’s important for the child to feel safe and secure as the changes are taking place. It helps for the teacher to know that children often are afraid that they won’t be taken care of well. They do need special attention which can mean just extra smiles, praise, and support if there are any peer difficulties.
The crux of the situation is for school to proceed as usual because at this time, this is the steady environment. The changes are taking place at home. School can be a safe haven when the teacher is aware of the child’s fears and confusions. The teacher is an authority figure who is kind and supportive. Even taking time out from a teacher’s lunch time to spend more time with the child can be beneficial and improve the child’s self-esteem while helping the youngster feeling wanted.
About the Author
Laurie Hollman, Ph.D. is a psychoanalyst with specialized clinical training in infant-parent, child, adolescent, and adult psychotherapy. She has been on the faculties of New York University and the Society for Psychoanalytic Study and Research, among others. She has written extensively on parenting for various publications, including the Psychoanalytic Study of the Child, The International Journal of Infant Observation, The Inner World of the Mother, Newsday’s Parents & Children Magazine, Long Island Parent. She also wrote her popular column, PARENTAL INTELLIGENCE, at Moms Magazine and has been a parenting expert for numerous publications such as Good Housekeeping and Bustle Lifestyle. She currently writes for Active Family Magazine (San Francisco) and Thrive Global.Her new book is Unlocking Parental Intelligence: Finding Meaning in Your Child’s Behavior on Amazon.Visit her on her website for more guidance: http://lauriehollmanphd.com.