Going through a divorce can be an extremely emotional and challenging time, and it’s almost always more difficult when you have children.

Even when both parents remain civil during the process, there will likely be many challenging moments. But there are things you can do to make the transition easier for everyone.

Steps to ease the pain of divorce for kids

Something as simple as making sure your kids continue to have access to a beloved family pet can go a long way in helping them cope with the pressures of divorce. Here are some other actions you can take:

  • Respect the other parent: Children shouldn’t be put in the middle of a dispute between spouses, especially if the relationship turns contentious. Making negative or angry comments about the other parent in front of, or to kids will only confuse them and add to their anxiety.
  • Talk to your kids: Being honest with your children is more important than ever when going through a divorce. Giving them false optimism by telling them that nothing is going to change will likely have the opposite effect. Let them know that what’s happening is not their fault, and even though these are uncertain times, you’ll get through it together.
  • Take care of yourself: Divorce is incredibly stressful. But before you can take care of your kids, you need to take care of yourself, mentally and physically. That might include setting aside time to exercise, read or talk to a counselor.
  • Make the most of family time: Whether it’s reading a bedtime story, taking them out to eat or attending their school or sports activities, doing normal things not related to the divorce shows kids how much they are loved even though it might be a difficult and sad time.
  • Make a fresh start: While some family traditions may survive a divorce, such as children’s birthdays, trying to keep doing things the same way typically doesn’t work and creates more stress. Take the opportunity to build new traditions at Christmas or on other holidays or family events when kids will spend time in both households.

Focus on your children’s needs

Despite the many changes that occur, children whose parents are honest with them and continue to put them first can experience a smoother transition to their new lives. While it won’t be easy for anyone, focusing on their kids’ needs can help divorcing parents unite for a common goal keeping the process as painless as possible.